Anime and Tourism Combine as Visitors come to Famous Kyoto Anime Sites
Japanese animation, known around the world simply as “anime,” was first screened exactly 100 years ago, in 1917. Over that time, the visual culture of Japan, especially to the international audience, has evolved.
This year, Kyoto International Film and Arts Festival, which has previously focused primarily on the founding of the Japanese movie industry in the city and the history of cinema, is combining with leaders of anime with a series of events, including a symposium opened by Ichiya Nakamura, Chairman of the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival Executive Committee.
Nakamura introduced the topic of Animation Tourism and the concept of connecting the trio of anime, tourism and traditional culture. Kyoto City has also appointed the anime of “The Eccentric Family” based on Mihiko Morimoto’s stories as the Special Kyoto Goodwill Ambassador for the city, he announced.
The hour-long symposium comprised of three special guests; Dai Kusaki of the Kyoto City Hall Tourism Bureau, Takayoshi Yamamura, Professor from Hokkaido University Center for Advanced Tourism Studies, and Nobuhiro Kikuchi, Executive Director at Progressive Animation Works.
“Anime tourism is a common phrase these days, referring to inbound tourism for people who want to discover famous locations they’ve seen in films, that we can call anime holy places or meccas,” said Yamamura. “This brings together three elements - anime, tourism and traditional culture.”
Kyoto has a spirit of tradition combined with modern elements, he explained, introducing Progressive Animation Works, a company based in Toyama that focuses on anime and local communities. He also divided Anime Tourism and its site-specific allure, and Content Tourism, a more general concept that brings tourists to experience pop culture in Japan.
“Kyoto has a lot of sites to development anime, including 38 schools teaching anime, location sites of both Shochiku and Toei studios, and the Toei Kyoto Studio Park,” said Kyoto City Hall Industry Tourism Bureau’s Dai Kusaki.
Explaining the depth of the anime’s influence in the city, he explained that “Nintendo and lots of animation production are in Kyoto, as well as Kyoto International Manga Museum, which receives 2.7 million visitors a year. “We also hold a business fair for manga each year attracting 44,000 visitors,” he revealed.
Nobuhiro Kikuchi, Executive Director of Progressive Animation Works is directly involved in the creation of anime, and explained that the animation industry has lots of possibilities beyond only as an entertainment, being a source for games, goods, cosplay, and now with a new focus on pilgrim sites.
“With anime we can reproduce easily compared to live movies,” he said. PA Works own ‘Eccentric Family!’ has already sold 360,000 copies.
The company also held a talk show at the famous and historic Minami-za theater, the first time anime has been the focus of an event there, building a connection with anime and traditional culture.
“We have to think about what kind of experience we can provide, not only sending out information about what we have here,” said Kusaki. “Animation can be a possibility to bring people to Kyoto, but not only for branding, also as a tool to attract new types of tourists.”
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