Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Washinomiya Shrine, aka the Lucky Star Shrine, aka potentially the nerdiest research I will ever do

Hey, everyone!  I'm currently at TECH HOUSE, and it is PRETTY COOL because now I have seen 009...actually, scratch that, 009 is just weird.  But I've seen a bunch of THers, and tried some really weird rhythm game and it is generally all good.  So, yeah!

In other news, I have now gotten hits on my blog through the keywords "college penises."  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh dear.

In other other news, Sara has posts up about the only-kind-of-Nikko tour and our other Tokyo adventures!  You should go check 'em out.

So, yeah, March 21!  Nellie and Michele and I discovered that we had a beautiful view of the Sumida River from our hostel room.

Also a beautiful view of the golden poop building.

It's not actually supposed to be a poop.  It just looks like one.

...on the other hand, I'm not sure what it's actually supposed to be.  I think a flame?

So, yeah, we packed up our stuff and headed our separate ways.  My destination was Washinomiya Shrine in Saitama Prefecture, which turned out to take a lot longer to get to than I originally anticipated.

"But, wait, Dana!" you say.  "Why would you bother sitting on a really slow train for 2 hours to see this minuscule shrine in the middle of nowhere when you could be seeing everything Tokyo has to offer?"

Well, this was the first thing I saw when I stepped off the train.

Yes, Washinomiya is the Lucky Star town, and Washinomiya Shrine is the Lucky Star Shrine.

Some background for those of you who might not be as anime-savvy!

There's an absurdly popular slice-of-life anime called Lucky Star, which is set in a real-life town in Japan, Washinomiya.  Additionally, two of the main characters work as miko (shrine maidens, for those of you who have forgotten) at Washinomiya Shrine, and the (very famous) opening sequence includes a shot of the front of the shrine (at 0:23).
When fans realized that Washinomiya was A. a real place and B. easily accessible from Tokyo, they began streaming there in unprecedented numbers.  Visiting the shrine became known as the "Lucky Star pilgrimage," and people often left elaborate ema behind.
The shrine has, for the most part, embraced the sudden flood of crazy otaku, as has the town, as you will see shortly.

This, by the way, is one of the mikoshi carried during one of Washinomiya's festivals:

Yep, it's a Lucky Star mikoshi.

Anyway, from the station, I headed toward the shrine!

Washinomiya, if you hadn't already guessed, is out in the inaka.  Or more inaka than Tokyo, anyway.

Yes, that is a Lucky Star car in the parking lot.

The fabled shrine!

These banners are up all over the town.

These are posters I found in the windows of local shops.

...and a giant stone ema.

Here's the menu of the cafe I ate at!
A bunch of the stuff they serve is eaten by the characters in the anime.
The cafe is also kind of a legend, 'cause the shrine has hosted some events with various people involved with the anime, and usually the cafe has some sort of limited seating event beforehand with voice actors or other important people.

Yep, basically, this cafe is a legend.

It's not that big, either.

They also have a little boombox on which they play music from the Lucky Star anime!

They had a bunch of winners of a humorous haiku contest hanging around the cafe.  This is my favorite.

"Every time an anime starts
They increase:
His brides"

(Otaku will often call anime girls that they like their brides or their wives.  Sort of like how I say I will marry things that are really cool.  Like waterfalls.)

These are a series of notebooks called "holy land pilgrimage notebooks," where otaku can write/draw various things!

This says "Do your best, Touhoku!  Let's do our best, Japan!"


This, by the way, is the outside of the cafe.

Having gotten my blood sugar up, it was time to hit the shrine!

So far so normal...

...this is all looking pretty normal, guys!

So then I went wandering through the woods around the shrine...

...random fields?

Wander, wander, wander...

So then I headed back to the main shrine grounds...

...where they had a bunch of peacocks in a cage?

...and more little shrines...

...and a pretty normal-looking mikoshi...

...and anime ema.

Even some anime ema that have nothing to do with Lucky Star!

I really like this set:

Hoping for Lucky Star 2!

They were all hanging next to each other, so it looked like they were holding hands in a continuous chain.

This person has visited 149 times.


Here's the ema from the 148th visit!
Note the date difference between the two.

Here's another one from the same person!

This one also says "hoping for Lucky Star 2."

This person wants to get into the physical science/physics department at a national university.

This ema is two-sided.

It's Lucky Star meets Madoka!

Some of the ema weren't even from Washinomiya Shrine.

These were Rilakkuma ema.

More ema from other shrines!

I couldn't find the remaining ema in this series, but it probably says がんばろう (ganbarou; let's do our best) and then something else, maybe 日本がんばろう?

This, by the way, is the back of the Washinomiya Shrine ema.

This is not.

"May people from the disaster-affected land be happy."

How this relates to Spider-man, a dragon, and a fan/radioactivity symbol...I am unclear?

More Madoka!


"May this year also be a fantastic year."

(And then below the date, "I love Miyuki-san.")

"May I definitely get tickets to the Arashi concert!!"


Lucky Star and Fate/Zero?

Here's another one of the linked hand ones...  I couldn't find the rest of its set though.

Also, this artist ("Salt") has left AT LEAST 257 ema at the shrine.

Text on the right: wish to rebuild [the damage from the earthquake and tsunami]
Text on the left: let's hold hands

"Once more, I came here with my parents for the first shrine visit of the year.  Just that made me happy. In the near future, I will probably become an ottan* and stop wanting to watch anime and stuff, but I don't want to forget that I liked Lucky Star.  If I come here with my parents again, I'll be very happy.  In order to achieve that, I want to work very hard this year, and while I [illegible] myself, I'll spend my days.
P.S. Hurry up and do Lucky Star season 2."


Both of these are stickers that have been put on the ema.

In the section for writing your wish, it says, "Nothing in particular."

"May I become better at ballet."

...with Leekspin Miku.

"May Nacchan get married!"

"What I am wishing for:
May the people affected by the disaster be able--even one day faster [than they would have otherwise]--to return to a peaceful and tranquil lifestyle."


"Kyokoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo,** I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu."

"May I get a significant other."

...I don't understand the relationship to the picture, though?

(USA, by the way, is the name of the person who made the ema, not the United States of America.)


So, yeah, then I headed out!

...hey, look, another nerd car!  But this one's K-On.

The town was pretty, even if it was pretty small.

I saw this building from the train platform.  The drawings were done by a bunch of the ema artists, which I think is pretty darn cool.

Side note: I totally want a blue roof.

So, yeah, that was my visit to Washinomiya Shrine!  I then headed back to Tokyo, picked up my luggage from the hostel, and transferred to the hotel where we were staying for the conference.

That evening I went out with a bunch of the other Fulbrighters to eat at a Mexican place called Frijoles, which everyone else told me was basically Japanese Chipotle.  It was...sort of Mexican food, I guess, but then again, I'm from California.
And then after some sketchy incidents in Roppongi, we got ice cream at Cold Stone.  AHHHHHHHHHHH, ICE CREAM, HOW I HAVE MISSED YOU.  Also, they totally sang "Happy Birthday" to Alyssa (it wasn't really her birthday; Nellie, you are so SNEAKY) and flickered the lights.  It was fun.

So, yeah, that was my Wednesday!

*I have no idea what this word means.  I might be misreading it.

**I actually have no idea if that's the correct reading of this name, since my names dictionary is pulling up about a million different possible readings.