Have you ever felt like visiting the places and shops that appeared in anime? I am Kawasaki and in Otaku Travel I travel Japan and visit towns that have appeared in anime!
This time I visited the Oumi Jinguu Shrine and its neighborhood in the western Shiga prefecture, one of the main sites of Chihayafuru, the popular anime about competitive karuta!
I have so many photos to show you! Let’s go see some of the scenes that appeared in Chihayafuru!
What is Chihayafuru?
Chihayafuru is a shoujo genre manga series about a girl who devotes herself to competitive karuta, . a traditional japanese card game. The series is very popular: it has two TV anime seasons and two live-action films.
Chihayafuru has many Japanese cultural aspects and a cast of cheerful characters that many fans fell in love with. The fandom is still trying to get the production company to work on a third season.
Oumi Jinguu Shrine
I decided to start the tour at Oumijinguumae Station (近江神宮前駅) on the Keihan Electric Railway Ishiyama Sakamoto Line. I wanted to visit the sights in this order: Oumi Jinguu Shrine (近江神宮), Oumi Kangakukan (近江勧学館), and Ootsukyou Station (大津京駅) on West Japan Railway Company.
To get to Oumijinguumae Station, I’d recommend taking the Touzai Line (東西線) of the Kyoto Municipal Subway (京都市営地下鉄) bound for Hamaootsu (浜大津), then change trains at Hamaootsu to either Sakamoto (坂本) or Oumijinguumae(近江神宮前). In case you get lost or have trouble transferring, don’t hesitate to ask a station employee. They will kindly show you the way.
Collaboration of Keihan Electric Railway and Chihayafuru
Keihan Electric Railway and Chihayafuru are currently having a collaboration project until the end of March, 2017. I managed to get on the ‘wrapped train’ (train cars ‘wrapped’ with special anime illustration decoration)!
In recent years, anime has been often used in Japanese regional development. They are used to attract tourists, and these anime-themed trains are spawning one after another, pleasing anime fans. Not all cars are decorated with the anime illustrations, so please ask a station employee for details. You don’t want to miss these cars!
There are anime illustrations inside the train too!
There are popular quotes and scenes from the manga printed inside the car.
My personal favorite quote is by Harada sensei:
Spend your entire youth without becoming stronger? Eyelashes-kun, hold that thought for now.
I couldn’t find this quote in the train I got on, but isn’t it fascinating?
Oumijinguumae Station (近江神宮前駅)
The Oumijinguumae Station had a huge Chihayafuru poster. It made me realize that I had really set my foot on the land of the Chihayafuru world.
There is another big poster after you go through the ticket gate. It says, ‘Welcome to Oumi Jinguu, the place of competitive karuta!’, with an instruction on how to get to the shrine: walk past the railroad crossing, walk straight and then turn right at the traffic light at the end. Then follow the road for about five minutes on foot. You’re almost there!
Oumi Jinguu Shrine (近江神宮)
The most important seichi, or sacred place, is Oumi Jinguu Shrine where the national tournaments are held.
After walking through a park, you’ll see a set of stairs with the shrine at the end. You can relate to how Chihaya felt in the anime just by seeing the shrine shining bright red. I took photos similar to the way the shrine appeared in the opening footage.
秋の田の かりほの庵の 苫をあらみ
Aki no ta no kariho no io no toma wo arami
Waga koromode wa tsuyuni nuretsutsu
Waiting for morning in the lookout shed, I watch over the harvest alone. The gaps in the weave of the roof are large, and my kimono, wet from the night mist, never seems to dry.
The ‘Akinotano~’ that Kana-chan explained to Chihaya in Chihayafuru was on display.
Do you remember the scene where they prayed at the shrine? See how accurately it was illustrated in the show.
This is where Chihaya encountered Shinobu Wakamiya. Do you remember the huge ring (called chinowa) that was shown in both the anime and the manga? This special ring is used for a shinto ceremony on June 30, and worshippers pass through it as an act of purification from impurities they have accumulated in the six months since the New Year’s day. They wish for sound health for the rest of the year.
Special Chihayafuru Omikuji and Kimono Try-on
You can also try a kimono! You can choose both its color and the patterns, and you can walk around the shrine precinct for only 500 yen per hour.
The kimono have hook-and-loop fasteners for convenience and you can easily wear it alone. They also have kimono for men and children. Kimono try-on is very popular among tourists.
They also have Chihayafuru Omikuji (oracle or fortune telling slips with Chihayafuru illustrations). You can purchase one for 300 yen and check your luck. I tried one.
I got Shoukichi (小吉/Small blessing)! The other fortune options are Daikichi (大吉/Great blessing), Chuukichi (中吉/Middle blessing), Kichi (吉/Blessing), Suekichi (末吉/Future or uncertain blessing), Kyou (凶/Curse), and Daikyou (大凶/Great curse). Mine was the third best I could get.
I may not have the best of blessing, but I was so happy that I got my favorite quote in it! You can also use this slip as a book marker.
Oumi Kangakukan (近江勧学館/Oumi School)
After enjoying the Oumi Jinguu Shrine, let’s go to Oumi Kangakukan, the place where the Nationals for competitive karuta are held. It’s inside the shrine property, so you can easily find it.
Yes, yes, it’s here! Where Chihaya, Taichi and the rest played their games!
It was really exciting to be here!
The lounge on the first floor looks like in the anime. Amazing! They had a poster of the live-action film.
They have Tsukue-kun’s(Desk-tom kun) notebook at the entrance! Chihayafuru fan can leave their comments in the notebook. I saw many comments written by foreign fans as well.
I found an ema (a small wooden plaque for shinto prayer) by Yuki Suetsugu, the original creator of Chihayafuru!
The board in the lounge had signatures by the live-action film cast members.
This is the fusuma (Japanese traditional partitioning made with paper and wooden frames) used in the live-action film.
They showed me the room used for B Class matches. High school karuta competitions are held in this room. They place tatami mats all over the floor when they the games are played.
When you go upstairs…
You’ll see the lounge where Chihaya and her friends reported the match results. You can see how accurately the anime presented the place.
And this is the room where the champion matches for Meijin or Queen and A Class take place. You could feel that there was a tension in the air.
I noticed that they had a hole in a shouji (障子/paper window). They told me that it happens when karuta players sweep cards!
They also told me that the tatami mats wear out in about five years. You can see some frayed parts at the edges. I realize that competitive karuta is quite a rough sport.
In the lounge, they had limited edition T-Shirts of Chihayafuru for 1,500 yen each. They sell new limited edition items every year for the high school competitions.
They also sell karuta cards and snacks for souvenirs.
After enjoying Oumi Kangakukan, I went to Ootsukyou Station (大津京駅). It’s about twenty minutes walk, or about three minutes by taxi from the shrine.
This is the place that appeared in the show when Arata first came to Shiga prefecture.
Yes, Chihaya and the others were walking here too.
Sight-seeing filled with Chihayafuru love!
This Chihayafuru seichi around the Oumi Jinguu Shrine made me realize how much love for the anime exists in this place. You’ll see a lot of Chihayafuru posters everywhere and limited merchandise being sold.
At the Oumijinguumae Station office, they also sell special Chihayafuru railway-tickets. They only sell a limited amount of 1,200 tickets, so they usually get sold out pretty quickly, but if you have a chance to visit this place, check out if they still have them.
If you have any requests on a specific anime pilgrimage you want to see, please share it with us in the comments below. See you at my next Seichi Junrei trip!