News and Opinion

Movie Tourism: The Tora-san Museum and the Yamada Yoji Museum in Shibamata

There is much discussion these days about anime tourism such as seichi junrei, in which fans visit the locations of their favorite anime, especially when those anime took the pains to locate scenes and events in actually existing spaces. 


Tourism based on moving images is nothing new, however. Postwar film series such as Nikkatsu’s Rambler (Wataridori) series or Shochiku’s Tora-san (Otoko wa tsurai yo) series featured roving heroes in part so that each film would be set in a different place and spark tourism to that location. The Taiga Drama series on NHK is famous for generating tourism to the locations the actual history depicted in the drama took place.

In going to the Tora-san Museum the other day, right after visiting the Ichikawa Kon Memorial Room, I could see a facility that attempts to generate tourism about a film series that itself attempted to generate tourism. In this case, the entire area around the museum has become part of tourist double mirror.

The Tora-san series, largely created and directed by Yamada Yoji, features the itinerant peddler Kuruma Torajiro. Forty-eight films were made in the series while the actor Atsumi Kiyoshi, who plays Tora-san, was still alive, making it one of the most successful film series in Japan, if not the world. In every film, he has to return home once or twice, and that home is in Shibamata, Katsushika-Ku, Tokyo. And that, naturally, is where the Museum is located.

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