Thanks to anime, several places in Japan that are NOT Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto, such as Washinomiya (Lucky Star), Chichibu (AnoHana), and Oarai (Girls und Panzer), have enjoyed a lot more additional income from tourism. These small cities or towns have wholeheartedly welcomed anime pilgrims who aim to visit the spots featured in their favorite anime.
Another place added to the ever-growing list of anime pilgrimage destinations is the city of Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture. This is all thanks to JC Staff’s relaxing anime titled Flying Witch, which has a refreshingly slow-paced slice-of-life story which has relaxed a lot of viewers.
The well-renowned animation studio behind Shakugan no Shana and the A Certain series have carefully reconstructed not just the areas where Makoto and company live, which is in the suburb of Shimoyuguchi, but other famous Hirosaki landmarks as well. Here are a few of the ones taken from Google Street View:
And remember that scene which Harry Potter fans have seen coming? The one with the mandrake? well, here’s the area where Makoto found that noisy medicinal plant:
According to Crunchyroll guest author, Wilhelm Donko:
“Hirosaki is an old castle town, which was ruled by the Tsuguru clan during the Edo period. Being a typical castle town, the Hirosaki castle was the center of the city; and a samurai district developed around the stronghold. Some of these samurai residences have been preserved and now serve as tourist attractions. In the show Ishiwatari Nao, Makoto’s classmate takes care of her parent’s liquor store. This exact store (which still functions as a store today) was actually a former a samurai residence that belonged to the Ishiba family, who were in fact not samurai per se, but rather merchants.”
The most famous site in Hirosaki is without a doubt, Hirosaki Castle, which is quite picturesque, especially during springtime when the sakura are blooming and the city celebrates its annual Sakura Festival. That very castle was also featured in the anime, when Makoto and her two cousins were touring around the city.
And as it seems, the city is also very much interested in welcoming incoming anime pilgrims who want to visit the places Makoto has visited. According to the Hirosaki Convention and Visitors Association, there have been an increasing number of people asking about several spots which were featured in the anime, and they are quite happy to welcome them. Now, if we can only ask Makoto (or Professor Sprout from Hogwarts) on how to find those Mandrakes…