‘Aoi Hana Meets the Enoshima Electric Railway’ Special Event Report by Bruce P

August 5th, 2012
Advertising Poster, Fujisawa

OMGOMGOMG! We have a very special Special Report today! Yuricon Staffer and Okazu Superhero Bruce P. took a little summer trip to Japan and wanted to tell us all about it. Here’s his report of the Aoi Hana x Enoshima Electric Railway Special Event!

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I recently had the opportunity to attend ‘Aoi Hana Meets the Enoshima Electric Railway’, an event held in Enoshima in connection with the publication of Volume 7 of Shimura Takako’s beautiful manga series. Actually, I made the opportunity. As a fan of Yuri, and Japan, and railways, and with Aoi Hana being my favorite series, nothing could keep me from attending this event (although a ride to the airport that never showed up came close).

The Enoden (i.e. Enoshima Electric Railway) runs from Kamakura along Sagami Bay to Enoshima and on to Fujisawa. This area is the setting for Aoi Hana, and the Enoden is the little train Fumi and A-chan take to school. In real life this is a seashore vacation area with a lot of young out-of-town summer visitors, and the Enoden is happy to promote itself to them with different events. An event for anime and manga fans is a perfect fit. Put on in association with Manga Erotics F, publisher of the series, ‘Aoi Hana Meets Enoden’ was as close to perfect as you can get without coffee mugs.

So on a hot Saturday morning I took the train called ‘Romance Car’ from Shinjuku to Fujisawa. Filled as it was with excited shore-bound families, and with scenery consisting mostly of trackside apartment blocks, there was little romance involved. It did stop briefly at the town of Shin-Yurigaoka (‘New Hill of Lilies’), which I took as a good sign. Five stops on the Enoden brought me to Enoshima, and after a short walk I found Enoden House, the principal site of the event. It was an hour after opening on the first day, and there was quite a crowd. Enoden House consists of a single large room; it was devoted half to toy train items for sale, and half to the event. There was a goods counter, the line for which extended out the door when I arrived (admittedly it wasn’t very far to the door). Items for sale included Aoi Hana lunch bags, tote bags, a variety of clear files, very nice post cards, pins, and copies of the manga and anime (but no coffee mugs). Background music from the anime was helping to put people in a festive mood. Festivities at the cash register were intense.

Enoden House

On the walls there was an art exhibit, consisting of original B&W ink drawings used in production of the manga, and framed copies of the manga’s color illustrations. To each of these color illustrations Shimura-sensei had added character sketches and an autograph. They were being raffled to folks who made purchases. You were allowed to turn the red drum, the number of turns depending on how much you had purchased; you cranked away, hoping for the lucky token to fall out. If it did, you could select any of the autographed illustrations on the wall for your own. I ended up with 27 turns. And zero framed illustrations. Good exercise though.

It was very hot, and Enoshima, being the shore, had sea breezes and stuff shops and food and drink and ice cream places and was really very pleasant. So I spent the day in the area, visiting the island with the tower you can see in some scenes, and late that afternoon stopped back at Enoden House to see how things were going. It was relatively uncrowded at that point, allowing for better viewing of the artwork, and of the adventures of ‘chibi A-chan’ and one of Enoden’s mascot figures, which looked like a fluffy throat lozenge. They had been photographed ‘posing’ at different spots along the railway. Some people were still buying, and by that time the DVDs had sold out.

Vol. 2, p. 150, trackside entrance to sweets shop.

Tokyo was so hot and Enoshima was such a delight that I went back again the next day. I walked around finding some locations used in the series.

Vol. 2, P. 149

Stopped one last time at Enoden House; it was not as crowded as on Saturday, most of the illustrations had been claimed, and the manga had sold out. Two more turns of the drum. More exercise. Zero framed illustrations.

The Enoden House exhibit was fun, but there was something that impressed me much more. As part of the event special posters with illustrations and quotations from the manga were put up in all the stations on the Enoden line. These were in addition to the quite nice general advertising poster for the event.

There are 15 stations, and there were 15 different one-of-a-kind special posters. Each one was incredibly elegant and beautiful. Apparently fans had been involved in the selection of the scenes and quotations.

To see them, and even more to see them hanging there in the wider world – and not, say, just in the back of a manga shop – was actually breathtaking. As a fan I was deeply impressed and grateful for the effort that had been taken to produce these posters, and with the elegance of the result. They were hard to photograph because they had a shiny, reflective surface, but I wasn’t the only one buying tickets to ride to all the stations just to take photos of them. The Enoden line didn’t mind a bit.

Was it worth the trip? You bet it was.

Erica here: Bruce, thank you for the report and the pictures! As a fan, I completely understand what you mean about seeing these up in the wide world. I’m so excited that this series has – and will for a few more days – brought tourists to Kamakura and Enoshima. And those posters. Wow. Thank you again and I can’t wait to see your swag!

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10 Responses

  1. Unknown says:

    Great report. Thanks, Bruce, for sweating on our behalf.

  2. Thank you for the report and photos, Bruce! This event sounds (and looks!) absolutely wonderful.

  3. Mandy says:

    Thanks for the report, sir! We all get to live vicariously through you. :D

  4. Michael says:

    This is great, Bruce. You managed to hit all of my fanboy obsessions in one go: trains, Japan, manga/anime, and trains in Japan depicted in manga/anime ^_^

    Seems Enoshima and Fujisawa are getting a lot of air time recently, with Tsuritama and Tari Tari. I really like when cartoonists and animators go to extremes to recreate a real life environment, and even better when it’s not always Tokyo!

  5. Bruce P. says:

    Thanks, everyone! It really was a lot of fun.

    Michael – not surprisingly, there was an Enoden House event for Tsuritama back in the spring, when that locally-set series aired. The folks at Enoden seem quite on top of things.

  6. Mara says:

    A fantastic report. Thank you very much for all the info.

  7. BruceMcF says:

    I was thinking the same thing about Enoshima, though I don’t watch Tari Tari, since in Knight in the Arena the protagonist, Kakeru Aizawa transfers to play with the creative midfielder that impressed his older brother … at Enoshima F.C.

    Lots of beach soccer practice (and of course the Nadeshiko Japan beach photo shoot in their swimwear because … coherent and believable plot is not Area no Kishi’s strong suit).

  8. Anonymous says:

    Only after riding the Enoden was I able to clue in that it was referenced a occasionally in Aoi Hanna, and that Duh! Hanna is set in Kamakura. It really is a tiny toy railway, and it runs at slow pace through apartment backyards, and along the bay shore into Enoshima. It’s like going back in time 40 years, I recommend the house-turned-cafe 1 block further on the line at the pedestrian crossing for your next visit.

  9. Motormind says:

    Oh, it’s too bad I have to miss this event. I have been to Kamakura twice, mostly because of Aoi Hana, and I am amazed they even know about the series. I have seen a lot of places from the manga and anime, including the sweets shop where they eat cream anmitsu and, of course, the Milk Hall (the favorite hangout spot in the series). At the Milk Hall they didn’t even know about Aoi Hana, and when I tried to explaine it to them I was met with riddled expressions (although my poor Japanese might have been to blame for that one).

    Of course, there’s something to be said about having Kamakura to yourself, so to speak, but this is nice indeed. To me, the whole town feels like an anime adventure park, since so many good series take place there. I can’t wait to visit again!

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