About 100 km south of Tokyo there’s an interesting resort town called Atami, whose onsen (volcanic hot spring baths) have been famous for more than 1200 years. Ever since the Tokyo land bubble burst back in 1989, the area’s hotels has been hard hit by the drop in tourist traffic, but this has changed recently thanks to the popular game Love Plus. In the new sequel to the game, you can take your virtual girlfriend — the pure and lovely Manaka, tsundere Rinko and the grown-up Nene — to a Japanese inn in Atami, and the city has embraced this, encouraging fans to come and take pictures in the places that appear in the game and of course, spend money on limited Love Plus bento lunches and such. Some establishments have reported that a quarter of their business is coming from this odd “otaku tourism,” which has rejuvenated the local economy. While some may be surprised at the extent Japanese fans take their obsessions, I think it’s a harmless way to have fun, and not really any different than a Beatles fan traveling to the UK to visit the famous Abbey Road crosswalk — it’s just a new medium for people to be obsessive about.
Take a trip with your virtual girlfriend, but not Nene — she’s mine.