The Rise of Anime Tourism

I observe my friends with unbridled envy as they plaster pictures of their Japan trip all over their social media. Ah, my jealousy as they fulfilled the ultimate weeaboo dream–to visit Japan.

Aside from the iconic stops of Mount Fuji, deer in Nara, or cherry blossoms during springtime, more recently, many anime culture sites have made it into the typical tourist rotation, such as Akihabara for merchandise shopping, maid cafes for the authentic meido experience, and the life-sized Gundam statue in Tokyo. Not to mention… Manga cafés! As the popularity of modern Japanese media spreads worldwide, a new breed of tourist is attracted to Japan, the anime-centric tourist.

Image source:
Image source:

But how much of a role does otaku culture actually play in increasing tourism in Japan? According to The Japan Times, a pretty big role. Not only is there a government-sanctioned “Anime Tourism Association” in Japan, but the Japanese government plans to actively take advantage of the popularity of Japanese pop culture overseas to further promote tourism, especially to more rural or lesser-known locations featured in anime. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appearing on the Rio de Janeiro Olympics stage in a Mario costume is a good summary of Japan’s attitude towards anime tourism–Japan is ready to welcome foreign anime tourists with open arms. 

A replica of Yuri Katsuki’s house (from Yuri!! On Ice) in Karatsu, sourced from Reika’s Instagram

Some notable options for anime tourists include:

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