Japanese municipality gets well-earned recognition for its bat emblem and bat castle.

Sometimes we find our minds wandering at work, taking us to unusual places where we ponder fanciful musings like: whatever happened to Japan’s Ame-zing Spider-Man? And…if Batman lived in Japan, where would his hideout be?

Well, we don’t have to ponder over that last question anymore, because the Batman franchise has just announced that Gotham City, the fictional setting for the Batman series, has set up its first-ever real-world sister city relationship.

The sister city is not in downtown New York, as one might expect, but all the way over here, in Japan. And it’s not the megalopolis of Tokyo that’s receiving the esteemed partnership, but a city in Hiroshima Prefecture called Fukuyama.

Fukuyama tends to fly under the radar for a lot of international tourists, but there are plenty of good reasons why the city is the perfect partner for Gotham. First off, there’s the city emblem, which was created in 1917 and designed to look like both a mountain and a bat.

▼ Yes, Fukuyama’s city emblem for over 100 years has been a bat mountain, long before Batman even existed.

The reason why a bat mountain was chosen as the emblem for the city is due to the heritage of Fukuyama Castle, the local castle which was originally completed in 1622. The fortress was built on a hill called Komoriyama, which translates to “Bat Mountain“.

The kanji “蝙”, used in the kanji for bat, “蝙蝠” (“koumori”) can also be read as “luck”, so the city around the castle became known as “Fukuyama” (“Luck Mountain”). That luck is still going strong today, because to celebrate the castle’s 400th anniversary, Fukuyama has now been crowned as Gotham’s sister city.

It’s a huge honour, as there’s been no other such arrangement in all of Batman’s long history. Fukuyama is the first city in the world, and the first city in the history of the series, to have a sister city relationship with Batman’s Gotham City.

According to the franchise, the sister city relationship is a way of cherishing the bat connection that binds these two unlikely partners, and it’s perfectly timed to celebrate the castle’s anniversary, as well as the upcoming 11 March release of The Batman, the newest instalment in the series.

On 21 February, the sister city relationship was formalised at a special signing ceremony held across two venues — the Warner Brothers Japan headquarters in Tokyo, and the Fukuyama City Hall main government building. The two venues synced up online due to the ongoing pandemic, with Fukuyama City Mayor Naoki Edahiro and Warner Brothers Japan Vice President Tomohiro Doai signing the papers.

During the signing ceremony, tie-up souvenirs, activities and collaboration visuals were also unveiled, firmly cementing Fukuyama City as a must-visit destination for Batman fans. Fukuyama residents have long remarked on the similarities between the city’s logo and the Batman symbol, so it’s nice to see the area receive such high-profile recognition for its longstanding bat connection.

Hopefully one day Batman himself will make the trip over to visit Gotham’s sister city, and if so, Fukuyama might want to set up some home-away-from-home style apartments and hotel rooms for the superhero to stay in!

Source, images: PR Times
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