TOTTORI--Tottori Prefecture, home of top-class manga artists including the creators of "Gegege no Kitaro" and "Detective Conan," will host a manga event in Tokyo's Akihabara "Electric Town" district on July 1, officials said.
Under the title of "Akiba de Sagasu Manga Okoku Tottori" (Manga Kingdom Tottori Searched in Akihabara), the event will be held in collaboration with a nonprofit organization called the Akihabara Tourism Promotion Association (ATPA), officials said.
With the Belle Salle Akihabara event hall in the Sotokanda area of Chiyoda Ward serving as the main venue, a mass-participation game will be offered during the event. Participants will look for keywords as they visit shops in the area.
A specialty fair and a Tottori hamburger festival will also be held.
The Tottori prefectural government in October 2011 came up with a regional promotional program called "Manga Kingdom Tottori" to make full use of manga and anime related to the prefecture. The prefectural government then concluded an agreement with the ATPA to hold an event in Akihabara.
For Tottori Prefecture, this year marks the introduction of the Manga Kingdom project. The prefectural government will hold an international manga expo across the prefecture starting from Aug. 4. In November, it will host the International Comic Artist Conference to bring together comic artists from overseas.
The Akihabara event will serve as a prelude to promote Tottori's promotional efforts through manga.
"Most visitors to Akihabara just visit shops they have in mind and go straight home afterward," ATPA director-general Tomio Izumi said. "It will be a great chance to have them search and learn about various shops in town."
Sakaiminato, Tottori Perfecture, shot to fame after it served as a location for the Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) drama series "Gegege no Nyobo" (The Wife of Gegege) that aired in 2010. The story follows the lives of manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, the creator of the "Gegege no Kitaro" horror manga series, and his wife.
The birthplace of Mizuki, the city also boasts the Mizuki Shigeru Road. More than 130 bronze statues of "yokai" ghouls and hobgoblins from the manga line city streets.
At least 3 million visitors are attracted to the sightseeing spot every year.
Meanwhile, the "Conan Street" was completed in 1999 in Hokuei, the hometown of "Detective Conan" manga series author Gosho Aoyama. Bronze statues of the manga characters are placed along the streets. The town office also opened the Gosho Aoyama Manga Museum, in which the artist's illustrations from his childhood diaries are on display. His studio was also reproduced in the museum.
Jiro Taniguchi is also a world-famous manga artist from the prefecture. He has been critically acclaimed in Europe for his elaborate drawings and was named a chevalier (knight) of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. Taniguchi has earned the nickname of "Yasujiro Ozu" in the manga industry.
Although the artist was born in the prefectural capital, his "A Distant Neighborhood" is set in the city of Kurayoshi, which retains beautiful rows of traditional white walls and storehouses.
Tottori Governor Shinji Hirai, 50, played a major role in arranging the Akihabara event.
"Every time I visited Asian countries as a governor, I heard a lot of compliments for the manga culture in Tottori Prefecture," Hirai said.
The governor said he is certain that manga has the power to revive local areas, referring to Sakaiminato, whose shopping streets were once suffering from dwindling business, but are now thriving.
The governor feels that Akihabara appreciates and promotes the charms of anime and manga.
"(I thought that) Tottori Prefecture should promote its manga culture overseas in a straightforward manner," Hirai said. It was the reason why the prefectural government concluded the agreement with the ATPA last fall and will host the International Comic Artist Conference later this year.
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