Actar in Tokyo – Final Day: A Lucky Star New Year

Akemashte Omedetou!!! Happy New Year! The final installment of Actar in Tokyo ironically takes place out of Tokyo in the quaint little prefecture of Saitama. Don’t know the significance of Saitama? Read on!

Being the New Year and all, I decided to spend the day in traditional Japanese fashion, by visiting a shrine. However, that would hardly be epic enough for me, so, the shrine I visited was none other than the one where our favorite purple haired, twin sistered miko work, Washinomiya Shrine! (^o^)

That’s right! Saitama is the setting of everyone’s (mostly) favorite slice-of-life Anime, Lucky Star.

You could say that this visit is one of the main reason for choosing this time to come to Japan. What better way to celebrate the very first ‘official’ Anime I watched that got me hooked on Japanese Modern Visual Culture, Lucky Star!

Let’s GO! (Caution, relentless onslaught of pictures ahead!!!)


Saitama is located North of Tokyo and is pretty far from Shinagawa, where my hotel is. To actually get there, we had to take the JR Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line to Ueno and change trains to the Tohoku Line. After reaching Kuki in Saitama itself, it’s only a matter of taking the local Tobu line to Washinomiya.

So, an hour and twenty minutes later, we’re finally there!

The minute after stepped out of the station, I saw this plastered over one wall of the station:

Yup, epicness has landed. At least you know you’re in the right place. (^.^;)

Passing a number of residential buildings on the way to the shrine, the amount of Lucky Star related banners, hanging from the streetlamps,

… and posters continue to increase in numbers!

Before long, the ‘Hiiragi Bridge’ is in sight!

Look familiar? Perhaps this scene will help:

A poster outside the shrine advertising the Lucky Star New Year event.

I was stunned to see so many people at the shrine. In all the pictures that I’ve seen, the shrine was mostly empty. Then again, it was New Year’s Day. As the Japanese don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, New Year’s Day is an exceedingly huge event for them.

Super long queue!!! When visiting a shrine, passing the Torii (shrine gate) means entering sacred ground.

Tsukasa and Kagami Balsamic Vinegar! I think…

Limited edition Nendoroids in collaboration with Saitama Newspaper that can be won via Kujibiki, sadly, foreigners can’t apply. (TT.TT)

… and here’s the shrine straight out of the opening scene!

For some odd reason, they removed the stone pillar thing from the front of the shrine.

In true Japanese Festival Fashion, there were a ton of stalls selling everything from Food to Lucky Star merchandise!

Taiga-nata!

Lucky Star books, magazines and manga!

Past events at the shrine?

The amount of people there was staggering, but not Comiket level.

People filming a Lucky Star related thing.

Cotton Candy!

Candy Apples!

Traditional Japanese Dolls.

Stores selling Good Luck Charms and Bad Luck Wards…

manned by none other than real-life Mikos!!!

Again, like a scene straight out of Lucky Star. (^.^)

Transportation Safety, Wards against Illness, so on and so forth.

Water to wash your hands and drink from to cleanse oneself.

Does the sign ring a bell?

The Ema, wooden plaques that worshipers write their prayers and wishes on,  of the shrine that is filled with Lucky Star characters:

More food stalls and scenery:

After queuing for more than an hour, yes that long, it was finally time to offer our prayers.

When visiting a shrine, there are certain rituals that must be followed. Usually, one must ring the bell to attract the attention of a god and then. After bowing twice, clapping twice, you pray. Last but not least, toss a coin into the donation box. This time round, the bells were not rung however…

Mikos, I think, giving out fortune coins.

Tie a bad luck ward!


More serene images from the legendary shrine.

What would a Lucky Star event be without Lucky Star cosplay?

WARNING!! WARNING!! The image that will follow will possibly scar your emotionally and mentally for the rest of your life. Actar is not responsible for any permanent damage and or trauma that may result from viewing it. Ready?

With all our praying, phototaking and merchandise getting, it was pretty late in the day already… The queuing and traveling took up a large chunk out of the day. So, wasting no more time, we headed for our next destination, Kasukabe Station!

As fans of Lucky Star know, Kasukabe station is the very train station that the main cast of Lucky Star frequently use to commune to and from their respective homes to their school.

Not only that, Tsukasa dances right in front of the station itself.

Panorama Mode!

Before long, it was time to take the bus to none other than Kyouei High School, the real-life high school that Lucky Star’s Ryōō High School is based on!

Message from the Principal!

The School Buses!


I really wonder how the school would be like during regular school days. Since it was the New Year, everyone was off on their holidays. I guess that this was all for the best. Didn’t want any awkward stares. However, according to numerous sources, the town should be pretty used to that by now. (^.^;)

Ever since Lucky Star aired, thousands of people have flocked to Saitama, bringing the little town a ton of attention, popularity and most importantly, income. The sale of Lucky Star goods alone brought them 42 million yen in income. Being such a source of so much fame and fortune, the town has an official ‘Lucky Star Day’ and has even made Tsukasa and Kagami citizens of Washinomiya.  How awesome is that? From the looks of the multitude of Lucky Star posters and banners, they are pretty ready to take advantage of the situation. (^.^;)

The school’s Bus Stop.

There we have it! Notice that in the last few pics, it was getting dark pretty fast. Since it is winter, the sun sets at around 4 – 5. Initially, I wanted to visit the Game center and the Family Restaurant but it light was lacking and it was really freezing as well. A quick bus ride later to Kasukabe Station, we were headed back to our hotel.

Last but not least, the final loot from Japan. It consists of:

Washinomiya Event Lucky Star File Folder
Washinomiya Event Ticket Thing
Washinomiya Event Kagami/Tsukasa Miko Poster
Washinomiya Event Kagami/Tsukasa Miko Bag
Special Edition of Saitama Local NewsPaper

As a huge fan of Lucky Star, this last day in Saitama was simply a treat. What a way to end my week long trip in Japan by paying a visit to the real-life locations of Lucky Star, the very first Anime that sparked my passion for Japanese Modern Culture.

Thus, ends the ‘Actar in Tokyo’ series of posts on my blog. I do hope you have had a great time joining me on my journey to Japan (well, almost) and here’s Actar wishing you a fantastic New Year.

(^.^)

———

Videos coming soon!

26 Responses to Actar in Tokyo – Final Day: A Lucky Star New Year

  1. Leon Lai says:

    That location is just like the characters actually exist before, and it now is a Lucky Star 圣地.
    Nice for you, if got chance, I wanna go there too cuz I like the Hirragi sister too!!!

  2. bakwa1989 says:

    nice.. i love the wood with lucky star characters on it..

    i always wonder why isn;t there a 2nd season since lucky star is so popular..

  3. Actar says:

    @ bakwa1989: Well, I’m sure it’s because the story has ended. The last episode featured the end of the final year of the girls’ High School Life.

  4. Exiled_Gundam says:

    Hmm wasn’t Saitama was the town where Shin Chan live too?

  5. Actar says:

    @ Exiled_Gundam: That’s indeed correct. (^.^)

  6. chocopup says:

    ive got to go to saitama..i love lucky star and shin chan…^^ but those cosplayers were creepy looking…(no offense to them)

  7. moemoekyun says:

    so lucky star festival really exist @_@

  8. Rin says:

    So you didn’t go to the Konata house…
    It’s actually near by as well!!!
    It’s nice to see the shrine more lively than the last time I went. It was so empty…

  9. Actar says:

    @ Rin: Yup, I had everything planned out, from directions to reference pictures, but didn’t have time left to go to Satte or even Omiya. (^.^;)

  10. @ Actar: wow actar, i envy you so much. someday i am going to japan to visit also…

  11. […] Day 1: Aches and Akihabara Day 2: Akihabara Again and Navigating Nakano Day 3: My Tokyo Tower in Otome Road Day 4: Comiket Sucked… Day 5: Doujin and Cosplay! Day 6: A Lucky Star New Year […]

  12. Asian Ed says:

    That’s pretty amazing. The shrine is significantly more crowded for new years than when I visited back in the fall. At that point, there were probably a dozen people or so on the grounds at any given point…

  13. chocopup says:

    hey actar, you can actually purchase those limited edition nendoroids on otacute (a website that sponsers alafista’s blog)…theyre just like any other nendoroid, they just cause more….link: http://www.otacute.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=The+65th+Saitama+Shinbun+anniv

  14. Actar says:

    @ chocopup: Wow! Thanks for the heads up! Really appreciate it, though I’m not sure if I’ll be getting them at the moment. Gotta save up for the upcoming releases! (^.^)

  15. KaneTheMessias says:

    Wow this is totaly awesome.
    I only read about the Lucky Star New Year.
    It’s cool to see all these well known places
    in real live. I must go there too!!!

  16. Matt says:

    Great report, you took a lot of pictures of the important sites, BUT: it’s extremely sad that you weren’t in Satte on january 3rd. The Manga Ka of Lucky Star, Yoshimizu Kagami was present including his mom and the boss of Kadokawa Shoten. I’m pretty sure i was the only foreigner knowing about this event.
    Four of my japanese friends got an autograph. I “met” the manga ka at Konata House(kagami Gallery), he was smiling at me and bow in front of me^^-well i’m not asian, that could be the reason for it…. Tonikaku, he was also in the restaurant in front of the washimiya gate after that, so you missed this chance twice, sorry for not looking at your blog earlier, i’m not even sure you look at your old entries .
    I was too busy with the K-On! Concert and stuff, so did realize it too late.

    Hope you enjoyed your trip, it’s cool too live in China, so near. If i take a travel to japan it costs me 20.0000 Yen, so i enjoy the time here.

    I’m looking forward to Wonfes in February, can’t wait.

    Till then!

  17. Actar says:

    @ Matt: Oh my!!! I was so close, yet so far! Had initially planned to go to Satte on New Year’s Day, but spent way too much time at Washinomiya… two days before… Great that you managed to meed him! (^.^)

    Was there a K-On! Concert? Was it the one where they announced the second season at?

  18. Matt says:

    Thats really zannen, the event was in front of the civil hall in Satte. You can take a close look at my blog on Gametrailers(it’s not really organized very well and my english grammar isn’t that perfect):

    http://www.gametrailers.com/users/sabersnake/gamepad/

    You know, i also took part in the mikoshi carrying, it’s really comfortable to live in Saitama, especially me living in between of Kasukabe and Washimiya. Akiba is only 40 minutes per train.

    The ticket for the K-On! Concert in Yokohama was painfully hard to get. I bought a lot of goods, including a towel. Yes, it was the day of the announcement of the second season, i nearly fall of my seat^^

    I’m happy that you got my comment, didn’t expect to get an answer that fast.
    But my happy days here end with the end of march, my visa is running out and i have to go back to my “grey” homeland…
    Hope to stay here longer the next time, not only 1 year, but doing part-time is a pain in the ….

    BTW: i tried to get the ticket for the Haruhi-Film where the voice actors and the regisseur are present, but failed at weak servers that couldn’t handle the demand.
    Again, three of my japanese friends got them, dammit, i’m so jealous. The same with Nanoha (go there in two weeks got the limited strap figure) and Fate (but bad film, don’t watch it!) didn’t get the Event tickets.

    I really have to renew my little bog the next days, didn’t even mention Dengeki: Genesis Event in Akiba.

    Till then!

  19. Crossman456 says:

    lol While I was scrolling I was saying in my head”Oh please have something to do with cotton candy!” and my prayers were answered! Fitting dont you think? XD When I saw the fish I was grossed out! I greatly dislike fish, so seeing rows of fish stabbed by sticks grossed me out… And you could even see the blood!

    Oh god, please tell me those weren’t crossplayers, and just old women cosplaying? I’d have to say the Kagami cosplayer looked the… Oddest? Can’t really pick one word to describe my disgust XP

  20. BlackSun88 says:

    wow that was really cool ^^ what a great way to spend ur new year ^^

  21. BlackSun88 says:

    sorry for double posting, that is really cool for u to put the actual scene in anime for comparison ^^

  22. Actar says:

    @ BlackSun88: Thanks a ton! It was indeed a wonderful experience. (^.^)

  23. konakonaotaku says:

    *.* i need 2 get that book published soon so that i can go 2 aisia n splurge (not in eBay sense, as i mentioned in ur new acquisitions *faints*

  24. FierlowCoitle says:

    http://radleybagssale.blogspot.com/ – Radley Bags Sale http://mountainbikeshorts.blogspot.com/ – Pearl Izumi Bike Shorts http://shopfrontsign.blogspot.com/ – Shop Front Signs

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