Jul 16, 2010


Japanese high school fends off anime fan invasions

Characters from the anime series 'Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu'.

Japanese high school Nishinomiya Kita Senior High School has a problem! But it’s not because of students, bad grades or annoying teachers. What’s causing headaches for school administrators is the growing number of anime fans that flock here from all parts of Japan and even foreign countries.

The reason they chose this school is the popular anime Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, where the main character Haruhi and her friends attend a school that’s closely modeled after Nishinomiya Kita High School.

The fans, armed with cameras, usually show up at the main gate, snap a few pictures, walk around the neighborhood and then leave.

Some, however, are more persistent and nag school officials to let them enter the premises. When they are denied entry, they ask to use the bathroom, knowing they are unlikely to be turned down. Of course there’s a good reason behind this — the school bathrooms are almost identical to those portrayed in the anime. Some intruders even manage to sneak into the premises without permission.

A 24-year old university student and a die-hard Haruhi fan has already made a couple of trips to the school. By overnight bus, he traveled from Saitama Prefecture all the way to the town of Nishinomiya, which is located at the foot of the Rokko mountain range in Hyogo Prefecture in the south-west of Japan.

“The line between the real and virtual worlds had blurred, and I felt like I had jumped into the anime world,” said the student, recalling his visits.

The school is the alma mater of Nagaru Tanigawa, the author of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu anime series. Besides the school itself, the anime features various real locations in Nishinomiya. The streets, buildings, stores, bridges — everything has been faithfully captured in the anime.

Due to the growing popularity and to welcome the fans, the Hyogo prefectural government last year launched a web site to introduce local food specialties and anime settings. But that’s not all — they are now considering working with private companies on anime pilgrimage tours for fans.

Even thought they still have to fend off the invaders, the school officials said they will lend as much support as possible for such projects. Makio Matsunaga, one of administrators who saw every episode of Haruhi, says that the students are inspired by the fact that a school alumnus has become a popular writer.

Now you are probably wondering what do the real sites look like when compared with the animated ones. Let’s have a look!

The official web site of Nishinomiya Kita Senior High School can be found here.

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