What Is Seichi Junrei? Learn How Anime Creates New Tourist Destinations

14 Mar 2019

What is seichi junrei?

In short, fan visits to locations that are the settings for their favorite anime are known as seichi junrei, or “pilgrimages.” But let us explain why seichi junrei is a lot more than that.

There is something magical about visiting the places that appear in your favorite anime. Seichi junrei is the experience of reality and fiction intersecting. By visiting the real-life settings, fans can develop a closer bond with the series they love.

While at first no effort was made to cater to fans visiting the real-life locations of their favorite anime, now seichi junrei has become a fully-fledged part of tourism. Bus organized tours, anime goods corners, anime themed public transport have now become a part of seichi junrei.

The craze started with fans visiting Washinomiya Shrine in Saitama Prefecture, which is a location in anime Lucky Star, broadcast in 2007. The anime attracted many people to the district and shrine. Stores set up a “stamp rally,” encouraging visitors to go to a list of locations to complete a set of rubber stamp imprints. They also marketed special goods related to the popular series.

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Seichi junrei is not only is fun for the fans but also helps to boost the local economy. Hanasaku Iroha centers around 16-year-old girl who moves from Tokyo to out in the country to help her grandmother at ryokan in Yuwaku hot springs in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. It portrays the lives and personal growth of the girl and her friends.

The anime features a fictional event in Yuwaku hot springs district called the Bonbori (lantern) festival. In October 2011 (the year that the series was broadcast) locals recreated the festival in real life. Since then, the festival has taken place every year and has become a permanent part of the area’s tradition.

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Hida in Gifu prefecture

Originally seichi junrei was mainly a phenomenon limited to the subculture of young enthusiasts. However, the astonishing success of Kimi no Na wa in 2016 changed that. became a huge commercial success, especially in Japan, where it grossed 23 billion yen, it’s real life locations started to attract a huge number of people. The movie features two basic settings: a few Tokyo locations and Hida, Gifu prefecture.

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Hida-Furukawa station pictured in Kimi no Na wa above and the real location below
You might know Shirakawago which is famous for its gassho zukuri house, but these houses are also endemic to Hida region. Hida Folk Village is a restoration of several old buildings and shrines done in the Gassho style.

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What is also famous in this region is doburoku sake. Shirakawago Junmai Nigori Sake is named after the Doburoku Festival held in Shirakawago, this junmai nigori sake extravagantly uses twice the normal amount of rice used to make normal sake. The process of making Doburoku involves leaving the mash in the sake, making it extremely dense and cloudy. This density and the natural deliciousness of the rice creates a refined nectar like sake with a stable taste that can be enjoyed year-round. It is best served chilled to 10 degrees, or on the rocks at the height of summer.

We hope someday you have a chance to visit the real-life locations of your favorite anime when you come to Japan!

In the meantime, we invite you to try this famous sake of Gifu prefecture!

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