Anime Pilgrimage #1: Visiting the Land of Gods

On the weekend of August 5-6, 2006, I traveled from Kanagawa prefecture, my summer residence, to Hiroshima prefecture, partly to visit Miyajima, one of the three most beautiful views in Japan, and the acclaimed A-bomb domb. (My timing could not have been better since August 6th was the day the A-bomb was dropped in Hiroshima.) However, my real purpose was to conduct a 聖地巡礼 to the town of Onomichi, the location of various Japanese movies, and, more importantly, the 2005 summer anime Kamichu! If you haven’t watched it, shame on you. One cannot find any single anime character in existence more moe than Yurie-sama. (I wish her good luck in the current Saimoe tournament, until she faces O-haruhi-sama, that is.) Anyways, Geneon has licensed the anime and has published some DVDs. So, go support the sweetest goddess in the anime world if you’re so inclined.


Onomichi Station

Onomichi is beautifully and faithfully depicted in the anime. Its business district is concentrated on the meager piece of land between a sea strait in the south, and a relatively steep hill in the north, forcing people to build their houses on the hillside. Schools, temples, and shrines are located on the hillside as well. Since I’ve always lived either in a valley or on a plain, the town is very interesting for me as it is full of slopes, staircases, and weird arrangements of buildings. The view from Zenko-ji Park, located on top of the hill is just spectacular.


Looking down from Zenko-ji Park.

The trip was enjoyable, but the only complaint I had was that the day was too hot to bear. Because the town is full slopes and staircases, navigating it was even more taxing. (Yes, I’m a fat otaku lacking physical exercises.) I remember interleaving a 30-minute rest between every 15 minutes of walking. Had I had more stamina, I could have covered more locations in the anime. But since I got photos of most places, I wasn’t quite disappointed about that.

So, here I present some Lame Photoz(TM) of locations in Kamichu! along with maps indicating the general where-they-are, hoping that they might become useful to some of you fellow fanboys, who might want to fly to Japan and give this seichi-junrei a try. It’s totally worth it, I assure you.

My advise is that, before you explore the town, go to the tourist information center near the station and pick up a tourist map. The map should contain locations of all religious buildings in town, including the two shrines featured in Kamichu! It should also contain information about “Old Temple Walk,” a guided walking route that takes you through numerous old temples on the hillside.

Credits

This trip would not have been possible without the efforts of people went to the trip before I did and were kind enough to write reports and published their photos on the internet. Looking at their websites, I learned which scenes from the anime were available, knew what the actual places are called, and, most importantly, got the maps linked to from this page.

Here are some links I used to do research on the trip:

Now, the locations and the photos.

うずしお橋 (Uzushio-bashi)

Many cuts in a number of episodes of Kamichu! portrays the railway and Onomichi station from a crossing bridge called Uzushio-bashi, just a little east of the station towards the direction of the shopping district. (MAP)

 

尾道市立土堂小学校 (Todou Shougakkou)

Todou Shougakkou is the school Yurie-sama and the gang attend. While being a middle school in the anime, it is actually a primary school. The school is not very far from Onomichi station: cross Uzushio-bashi, and go up a slope, and you are there. (MAP)

 

長神社 (Ushitora-jinja)

Ushitora-jinja is near the cable car station that goes up the hill to Zenkou-ji Park. It serves as the front building of Raifuku-jinja, the home of the Matsuri and Miko Saegusa. (MAP)

 

Beside the shrine, there’s a small alley leading to the top of the hill. There, you’ll find rocks painted as cats that appear in the DVD version of episode 2.

 

I’m not sure where the exact location of the above scene is though, but Ushitora-jinja is one of the many places in Onomichi you can find the cat-rocks.

御袖天満宮 (Misode-tenmanguu)

Misode-tenmanguu is the model for the environ of Raifuku-jinja. It’s not very far from Ushitora-jinja: just follow the Old Temple Walk as if you’re going to Daisanji (大山寺), and ask people there where the shrine is. (MAP)

 

Yurie’s House

Perhaps the most difficult location to find. Since I’m quite bad at giving directions, please consult the MAP. Interestingly, in the anime, the house is on the other side of the strait.

 

Ferry Wharfs

On the side of the main land, the ferry wharf is pretty close to the train station. (MAP) Seventy yen is the fee for a one-way ride, but you must pay for it only on the island side of the strait. Most ferry-related scenes in the anime are shot from the island side. Thus, by riding the ferry, you are able to not only see the locations in the anime for yourself, but claim that you have used the “transportation of the God.”

 

(I might add more content to this page later.)

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6 Comments

  1. Posted September 16, 2006 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    That was a cool travelogue and nice pictures. I’m really enjoying Kamichu on DVD so it was fun to see pictures of the real life locations, thanks.

  2. Skh
    Posted September 16, 2006 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Looks like you put a lot of effort in finding all the important locations of the anime. Good job too in always finding the right angle to take the pictures.

    Thanks a lot for this nice tour, it’s always nice to see the places which served as reference in an anime.

  3. Posted September 17, 2006 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    It seems that I misrepresented the effort involved in the trip. Actually, I’m very cheap. I googled for websites of those who have made the same trip, and checked what scenes in the anime had real-life counterpart. I also got the maps from some of the sites. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to find Yurie’s house. I’ve written a Credit section to give those wonderful people their due credits. I’m terribly sorry for not posting it in the first place.

  4. Posted September 17, 2006 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Ah now that was a true pilgrimage. Next stop, Hong Kong for FMP: TSR? Or anywhere else?

  5. Posted September 17, 2006 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Can’t go to Hong Kong any time soon, but chances are that I will be banck in Japan again next year. I’m planning to go to Shirakawa-go World Heritage Site (aka Hinamizawa), Nishinomiya-shi (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu), and, if the Kanon remake impresses me, then Moriguchi-shi.

  6. Torquemada
    Posted March 20, 2007 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Huh, will be visiting Onomichi next month and was planning to shoot some photos on Kamichu!-locations, but it’s not worth the effort anymore after seing your truely great pilgrimage documentation. Will be able to spent more time to enjoy myself. My wife will be enthusiastic about that ;-)

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