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Lucky Star (Raki☆Suta)

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A manga-based anime “Lucky Star” (Raki☆Suta) is mainly set in Kasukabe City in Saitama Prefecture, a suburb of Tokyo. “Washinomiya Shrine” (Washinomiya-jinja), one of the central settings, is in Washimiya, Kasukabe’s neighboring town. The recent international boom of pilgrimage to story-related sites was ignited by Lucky Star.

Being released in many countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Canada, the USA and Thailand in their own languages, Lucky Star has become an international hit. The significant setting of this anime is “Takanomiya Shrine” (Takanomiya-jinja) which is derived from Washinomiya Shrine in Washimiya. When the anime was broadcasted in 2007, many fans started to visit the town and the shrine. Now, the number of tourists from home and abroad is dramatically increasing. The economic boost in Washimiya is one of the most successful cases not only in Japan but also in the world brought by an otaku culture (a Japanese term referring hobbies like anime, manga, or video games). Here, we will introduce the pilgrimage sites in Washimiya centering on Washinomiya Shrine.

“Takanomiya Shrine” is the home of the Hiiragi sisters (Kagami and Tsukasa), who are main characters of Lucky Star. It is derived from Washinomiya Shrine, one of the oldest and biggest shrines in the Kanto region. An event aiming to boost the town’s economy was held at the shrine by Washimiya-machi (Washimiya Town) Society of Commerce and Industry at the end of 2007, the year the anime was broadcasted on TV. The voice actors and the author of Lucky Star were invited to Washinomiya Shrine for this event. Since then, events are held frequently at the shrine. On the day an event is held, many fans gather around the shrine in the morning to wait for the opening of the event and the area is filled with their excitement. Notably, hundreds of thousands of fans visit the shrine for the New Year.
When an event is held, stalls are set at the shrine’s parking lot and sell a variety of Lucky Star goods like character prayer plaques and cell phone straps. And people line up in front of each stall. Also, there are stalls for Lucky Star related food and beverages such as fried noodles and sausages. Write your wish on a prayer plaque and leave it hanging up at the prayer plaque hanging place so that your wish may come true. Many prayer plaques written by Lucky Star fans and people involved in the production of the anime are found at the prayer plaque hanging place. It is also interesting to see those prayer plaques.
“Otori-chaya Washinomiya” is a restaurant and a souvenir shop close to Washinomiya Shrine. It was opened in 2005 and was appeared in the anime along with Washinomiya Shrine. Since the year-end of 2007, some menus have been renamed after Lucky Star characters and also new menus associated with Lucky Star have been introduced. On the bulletin board at the side of the shop, information such as the shops that handle Lucky Star goods in Kuki City, in which Washimiya is located, are found at all times. The second floor of the shop serves as a small museum displaying the Lucky Star related mementos and donatives and also research findings on the economic boost of the town.
A shopping area extends inside the town of Washimiya. Many shops sell Lucky Star goods and Lucky Star decorations can be found. How about taking time to visit the shopping area to stroll around and shop after visiting Washinomiya Shrine?
[Washinomiya Shrine]
Take JR Tohoku Main Line from Ueno Station in Tokyo, change to Tobu Isesaki Line at Kuki Station and get off at Washinomiya Station.
Or, take Tobu Isesaki Line from Asakusa Station to Washinomiya Station.
7-min walk from Washinomiya Station.

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