Discover Japan with “Seichi Junrei”

Pop culture is considered to be one of Japan’s largest exports. People of all ages from all around the world have become fascinated with the unusual and original aesthetics of Japanese entertainment and fashion. Japan is also famous for animé and manga which continuously bring fascination, uniqueness, and fun to Japanese culture through video games, costumes, movies and television shows.

Animé is usually hand-drawn, but techno-trends have introduced computer assisted illustration into the genre. Like manga, animé has a huge following in Japan, gaining worldwide recognition. Many of the scenes in animé are derived from real life places.  There is a rising trend of visiting these places that are featured in animé and is known as seichi junrei, or “holy land pilgrimage.”

Katana Maidens: Mini Toji. | Screen grabbed from Anime News Network

The term originated from ancient religious practices but is more commonly used in Japanese otaku circles to relate anime locations to sacred sites. As of late, seichi junrei is fast becoming a cultural phenomenon.

Animé fans can now visit the places where their favorite characters are seen as well as the region where the story is set and actually feel closer to their most loved figure.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. | Victor Lee

Animé folowers experience reality and fiction intersecting giving them the feeling of developing a deeper connection with the series. The trend which initially began as a secret among die hard animé fans and those who started the fad gave it the revered name seichi junrei.

The Japan Tourism Agency and the Japan National Tourism Organization came up with the initiative called “Japan Endless Discovery,” that aims to make Japan more appealing to tourists from abroad. The Tokyo Otaku Mode together with the two agencies have put together a special site about Japanese pop culture.

The Animé Tourism Association also compiled a list of the top 88 animé pilgrimage sites for 2019. The list was inspired by Shikoku’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage, Japan’s most prominent Buddhist pilgrimage route.

   Chaos;Child Silent Sky, movie, Shibuya. | Screen grabbed from Anime News Network

The list includes scenic places that appear in many popular animé series with such classics as Hana-Saku Iroha (Yuwaku Onsen, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture) and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture) and newer animé  A Place Further Than the Universe (Tatebayashi City, Gunma Prefecture), Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale (Tokyo), and Laid-Back Camp (Minobu City, Yamanashi Prefecture).

What started out as a subculture quest is consistently gaining popularity amongst a global audience. Animé fans can enjoy the excitement and thrill of visiting the scenery that inspired their favorite shows and at the same time appreciate all that Japan has to offer through seichi junrei!