Japan takes it’s cartoon culture seriously! Most of the famous manga and anime characters can be found as bronze statues around Japan, mostly at the home town of the creator or where the manga takes place. Some of the most famous manga statues would be the Gundam statue in Odaiba or the Kochikame statue in Kameari, or the Godzilla statue in Tokyo’s Hibiya district. These two statues are of the 1965 comic Hajime Ningen Gyatoruzu, but everybody just knows it after the name of the main character, seven year old caveman boy Gon (hajime ningen means “first man”). This one is in front of the Matsue JR Station in Shimane prefecture, the hometown of Shunji Sonoyama (1935-1992). Caveman Gon was on Japanese TVs regularly from 1974 and I think most Japanese over the age of 40 knows some of the catch phrases of this character by heart!
If there’s one kind of blogging I don’t do well it is food blogging, as has been proved time and again. But I’m no quitter and I will give it a go again with this seafood plate that I ordered in a small izakaya (restaurant) in Matsue City, Shimane prefecture, last year. How many ingredients, fish, vegetable, garnishes, etc., can you identify? I think I know half of these myself. For this seafood set course I think I paid about 1480 yen, which is not much, not dirt cheap but very very reasonable. I think I had to order more rice though! I think I picked it because it was Today’s Special. Always a safe bet! Oh, and maybe I should offer a prize to celebrate the fact that this blog post is the 1300th published post on this blog!
Last year was the 400th anniversary of the completion of the castle of Matsue City in Shimane prefecture and the whole prefecture put on a huge effort to attract tourism and visitors. Despite all the things going on in north eastern Japan at the time they really did great and I took full advantage of being the complete tourist for my two day trip to the city. This being Japan, Matsue did the rather clever thing of putting up an idol group just to promote the city during 2011, the Matsue Maihimetai, which roughly translates as the Dancing Castle Maidens of Maihime (or at least that’s what I would call them if someone had asked me to give them an English stage name!). At their official site you can download one of their songs and learn the lyrics to some others. Here’s a rather simple video online showing their performance in front of the gorgeous Matsue Castle, and also singing about it.
No matter how famous they became or how much they helped to put Matsue on the tourist map during their short time on stage, I think that it’s a great use of a city’s marketing budget, especially as they sent them out on a summer tour across the country. Local talent promoting their own city and showing that it’s not only Tokyo that can do idol groups!
The photos I took of their very sunny midday performance at a stage below Matsue Castle aren’t very good at all, since I had to use my longest lens for the day, a 70-300mm Sigma that is absolutely not built for these situations. But one uses what one’s got, right?