Japan has nothing if not some seriously devoted fans! One of the more popular recent anime shows is the Girls und Panzer (ガールズ＆パンツァー), which is basically about teams of girl high school students using WWII tanks in mock battles as a sport. Not having seen or read any of the anime or manga I can’t comment on it but in the series, which focuses on a fictional school in the real city of Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture the famous Oarai Isosaki Shrine is featured. As such, the shrine has been inundated with fans from all over Japan and have even created a special ema votive plate hanging spot. Not only the shrine but the entire city is taking advantage of the spotlight placed on it and if you walk around in town you can see plenty of signs and posters and cardboard figures with the many characters of the show.
The ema are all handmade by fans and many are extremely well done. Not a small percentage of them were hung by one particularly devoted fan that has created a mini story out of the hudnreds of numbered ema he has produced, some of which are pretty worn from hanging outside for months. Of course all of these ema will sooner or later be taken down and burnt on a ritual pyre. Sorry about all the photos! It was easy to get carried away and so many good ones!
The other day I made a new visit to the grand (and fairly new) Toranomon Hills in Tokyo’s Toranomon district and the streets and buildings around it. You can read about my first visit over here, in a blog post from October last year. It seems like a cool place to live and work but I haven’t yet met anyone who does that personally. Maybe some day! Apart from offices the tower itself also has a few shops and more than a handful of restaurants and cafes, most of which I haven’t yet checked out. The trick for people on a budget is to visit the fancier restaurants for lunch rather than evening dinner, as the prices are usually about half as much as dinner time. Despite being named Toranomon Hills it is actually a bit of a walk from Toranomon station, but not so far as to be daunting.
Earlier this year the big Kanda Myojin between Ochanomizu and Akihabara station celebrated the usual hatsumode rituals with an appearance of the two gods, Ebisu and Daikokuten. I took these photos as I passed through the shrine and also took the opportunity to take some photos of the newest ema plaques to have gone up since my last visit! Some people really put a lot of effort into their ema! Of course all of these are destined for the big ritual pyre at the end of the year. You can read more about Ebisu and Daikokuten in this blog post from last year.
One of the most interesting parts of the the Meiji Seimeikan in Marunouchi (mentioned a few times in posts recently) are the original building details, the elevators, the internal tube mailing stystem, the buttons, levers and mechanics of the structure etc. It adds to the experience. The rooms on the visitor’s level are very luxurious, and you must wonder at the quality of the fittings and furniture, I doubt many modern offices look this good even after a couple of years of use, and this building has been in used through wars and Earthquakes for decades by now. The building is open on weekends and the is no entrance fee so go have a look when you are in the area!