Modern anime series usually go out of their way to set themselves in actual locations, which adds realism and also encourages fans to get out and visit these “holy lands” (as they’re called in Japanese), which can bring much-needed otaku tourist dollars to less economically vibrant areas of the country. For some reason J-List’s location of Gunma (in the exact center of the country) is often the “setting” for anime series, perhaps because it’s close enough to Tokyo that staff doing ロケハン loke-han or “location hunting” can come here and return the same day. In one of the pool episodes from I Have Few Friends, the characters visit a pool that’s located near J-List, and many other series – from Oreimo to Persona 4 to Kiss x Sis – have episodes that were “filmed” near us. In a recent episode of Rail Wars the characters visit rural Gunma to solve a crime while riding on a classic old train called the Kiha-40. I’d ridden this train with my son back during his “train phase” (which all boys in Japan go through, right before their “giant beetle collecting phase” and their “Yu-Gi-Oh card mania phase”). I heard a rumor that the train line (the Watarase Keikoku Line) might be shutting down because it was in such a rural part of the country serving only a few thousand people, and I wanted to visit the onsen hot springs that was built into one of the small train stations. J-List’s employee Tomo, who keeps the site stocked with cool anime games for the PS Vita and interesting “dolphin polishers,” is from the city where the train line starts, and was amazed to see his hometown rendered so accurately in anime.
When I took my trip to Kyoto last week, it was my first time visiting the city since the new train station was completed nearly a decade ago. A massive 15-story construction that contains dozens of shops, a department store and a five-star hotel, Kyoto’s new train station is a very convenient place to travel through…though foreigners who have come to the city looking to experience something of old Japan nearly always hate the sprawling steel-and-glass monstrosity. Japan has a tradition of going out of its way to build expensive shiny things because they think foreigners will be impressed with their engineering skills, such as the famous shinkansen bullet trains, which exist almost entirely because Japan wanted to impress gaijin arriving for the 1964 Olympics. I can imagine the thought processes that went through the minds of the architects designing the new Kyoto Station – which, at $1.25 billion, is the 5th most expensive building in history. They were positive that foreign visitors would oo and ah at how modern and futuristic it looked, when what we really wanted is a delicate train station made of bamboo and traditional washi paper…which aren’t terribly good things to build a train station out of, now that I think about it.
2015 anime calendars season is in full swing around here, and today we’ve posted another 40+ calendars for you to browse and preorder. Japanese calendars feature huge, glossy poster-sized sheets and are beautiful to gaze at all year long. Today we’ve posted calendar from top Japanese artists like Kantoku and Coffee Kizoku, all the Kyoto Animation calendars including Chu2koi and Free!, plus Youkai Watch, Hatsune Miku and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. We’ve also got a huge volley of JAV calendars featuring your favorite JAV actresses.