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Contents Tourism in Japan: Pilgrimages to “Sacred Sites” of Popular Culture By Philip ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Contents Tourism in Japan:


Zuisenji Temple, Nanto city, Toyama prefecture: A young woman is taking a photo of a temple in the Inami area of Nanto city. As she lines up the shot, an anime character appears on the screen of her tablet. The woman is using the AR (augmented reality) app Koitabi Camera. The anime girl is one of the characters of the anime KOITABI~True Tours Nanto (Koitabi), which is set in Nanto city and was produced by Nanto city government and local anime production company P.A. WORKS. Having watched one of the three Koitabi episodes on her tablet (they are all romantic vignettes lasting about ten minutes which take place at locations in Nanto), the woman is now able to use the Koitabi Camera. But, to watch the anime and use the app, she has had to travel to Nanto city. The anime can only be viewed when the tablet’s GPS (global positioning system) indicates she is in a specific location; and the app can only be used after watching an episode and while standing at one of the designated AR points, of which Zuisenji is one.


In recent years, Japanese manga, anime, music, cinema, television dramas, and computer games have gained many international fans. Recognizing the global appeal of Japanese popular culture, since the early 2000s the Japanese government has promoted popular culture exports and developed a national branding strategy using the slogan “Cool Japan.”1 This strategy has two main elements: to gain a larger share of the multi-billion-dollar global culture industry and to improve