Real-life location for the Lucky Star anime forever altered as iconic gate comes tumbling down.

For years, Japanese anime fans have been enjoying a pastime called “Seichi Junrei”, which translates to “Holy Site Pilgrimage“. Despite its religious connotations, in the world of anime seichi junrei refers to visiting real-life locations that appear in popular anime, and for fans of the popular series Lucky Star, this happens to involve a real holy site called Washinomiya Shrine.

▼ The shrine is particularly famous for its large torii gate, which appears in the Lucky Star anime.

Located in Washimiya in Saitama, Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture to the north, Washinomiya Shrine is known for being the oldest shrine in Japan’s Kanto region, which encompasses the Greater Tokyo Area, along with Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa prefectures.

▼ The “Lucky Star Shrine” in real-life.

In Lucky Star, which began as a four-panel comic strip manga back in 2003 before being serialised in anime form, Washinomiya Shrine is where the the Hiiragi sisters, the anime’s main characters, work as miko shrine maidens. As a result, fans, cosplayers and photographers have been flocking to the shrine in recent years, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in Lucky Star-related sales to the town.

However, on the weekend, fans were left reeling after reports revealed that the iconic torii gate at the entrance to the shrine had collapsed.

According to eyewitnesses, the gate fell at 11:00 a.m. on 11 August, creating a loud creaking noise as it collapsed.

The gate fell towards the road, but thankfully nobody was walking past at the time so there were no injuries.

The only casualty was this car, which received damage to its boot as it was parked near the gate at the time of the incident.

News reports on television showed the remains of the gate being cleared soon after its collapse.

One visitor filmed the gate as it was being cleared away. According to his report, the gate had been rebuilt in 1973 and had been inspected 10 years ago.

However, this photo from March shows that the gate looked to be in dire need of repair.

Shrine staff say that inspections are currently underway to determine the details as to why the gate collapsed. However, they suspect it deteriorated naturally due to old age.

▼ The famous entrance now looks totally different without its iconic gate.

The cement blocks on which the torii once stood are still there, though, ready to support the new gate in future.

This photo shows the depth of the holes in the cement which are used to support the tall structure.

Given the shrine’s popularity with locals and fans of the popular anime, it’s lucky that nobody was injured during the incident. Still, Washinomiya Shrine won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s only a matter of time before a new torii gate is erected in its place, which is more than we can say for the real-world shrine from Ghibli anime Pom Poko, whose future is currently teetering on the balance.

Source: Net Lab
Featured image: Twitter/@teradrive_tw