Ikebukuro is now a sacred place for anime… What is Ikebukuro’s “serious strategy” to break away from being a “vanishing city”? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ikebukuro is now a sacred place for anime… What is Ikebukuro’s “serious strategy” to break away from being a “vanishing city”?

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Moving Away from “Vanishing Potential City” to “International City of Art and Culture

Anime Tokyo Station opened in Ikebukuro on October 31, ’23.’ In 2002, Toshima City was identified as a “Potential Disappearing City” with an estimated 50% or more decrease in the number of women between the ages of 20-39, but what happened to Toshima City today?

Immediately after the announcement, we set up the “Emergency Task Force for Cities with Disappearing Potential. We then set our sights on becoming an “International Art and Culture City” that will continue to develop. One of the pillars of this plan was to promote manga and anime from Toshima City.

says Takayuki Kumagai, Manager of the Manga and Anime Utilization Section of the Toshima City Office.

The Tokiwaso Museum holds special exhibitions three times a year. Many tourists from overseas visit the museum, and many local elementary school students also visit (PHOTO: courtesy of Toshima Ward Office).

In October ’14, the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival was held.’ In 2011, Shibuya imposed restrictions, but Ikebukuro held its 10th festival. The number of people who gathered was 140,000! The highest crowd in Shibuya was about 40,000 in ’19, but more than three times that number gathered. Did nothing go wrong?

The district conducts this event as an event with rules. Event participants are not allowed to drink on the street. This year’s festival was held on Saturday and Sunday, October 28 and 29, and the “Machi Kirei Project,” in which participants volunteer to clean up trash, was also held. The mayor of the district also participated in cosplay,” said Takayuki Kumagai.

(Mr. Takayuki Kumagai, the same below) “Shibuya should have held an event as well,” he said,

I think that Shibuya should have held a festival, too,” said Takayuki Kumagai, a member of the festival’s executive committee. There, we make security plans, set up the venue and changing rooms, and register cosplayers and photographers.

Preparation starts in June. This is not easy to do unless you are serious about it.

Ward office employees also dressed up to participate in the Halloween Cosplay Fest. Mayor Miyuki Takagishi (center) also dressed up as a popular character.

We want to show the world that Teshima is the birthplace of manga.

The idea of promoting Teshima City as a “sacred place for manga and anime” came about because of Tokiwaso, a villa that is home to Osamu Tezuka, Fujiko Fujiko-Fujiko-Fujikoshi, and other famous manga artists. Tokiwa-so is a wooden apartment house where famous manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka, Fujiko Fujio, Fujiko F. Fujio, Shotaro Ishinomori, and Fujio Akatsuka lived and created many masterpieces.

There has been a petition since 1999 to have a memorial built here. The monument was erected in 2009, and the groundwork for making Toshima City a “mecca for manga and anime” was laid even before 2002. Today, Japanese animation is world famous, but its origin is in Toshima Ward. I want people around the world to know that.”

The Tokiwaso Manga Museum holds three special exhibitions each year, and currently has a special exhibition, “Futari no Kizuna: Shotaro Ishinomori and Fujio Akatsuka” on view through March 24.

Since 2005, the “Tokyo Anime Award Festival” has been held in Ikebukuro, where animation works submitted from around the world are judged, and in 2007, the “East Asia Culture City 2019 Toshima” will introduce the changing city of Ikebukuro through animation. The “Tokyo Anime Award Festival,” in which works are judged, is now held in Ikebukuro.

We are seeing more and more tourists from overseas.”

A Bond Between Two People: Shotaro Ishinomori and Fujio Akatsuka,” on view through March 24.
A monument erected in front of Tokiwa-so. Self-portraits of the cartoonists who lived in Tokiwaso are displayed.

For the first time in 40 years, the population is also increasing… We want to bring businesses and residents of Toshima Ward together to make Toshima Ward a more exciting place to live and work.

Not only Halloween cosplay festivals, but also various other events are being held. The “Tokiwaso no Machi (Town of Tokiwaso)” tour on the Ikebus with Toshima City’s local heroes, the Owl Warrior Toshimach/Prism, a digital stamp rally involving private companies, and the “Animate Girls Festival” and “Toshima Manga Anime Festa The “Animate Girls Festival” and “Toshima Manga/Anime Festa” held every fall are also popular. The shopping streets are decorated with event flags, and just walking around the area makes one feel as if it is a “mecca for manga and anime.

In Toshima City, a project called “Team Toshima” has created a place where companies can talk with each other and with the government, and each company brings its own specialties to co-sponsor events.

Sachiko Kobayashi, the ambassador for the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fest, dressed as “Onimai Tsuji Musho,” the ruthless boss from “Blade of Oni no Ketsu” (© Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fest 2023).
The ’23 Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fest, which attracted 140,000 people, celebrated its 10th anniversary with an expanded course and parade (© Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Fest 2023).

Ikebukuro has also succeeded in emerging from its status as a “vanishing city. The population, which had temporarily dropped to the 230,000 level, reached 290,000 in ’18 for the first time in 40 years, and the rate of decline among women aged 20-39 rebounded from 50.8% to 18.9%.

In order to attract young women to live in the area, we have been working to improve the child-rearing environment, including the development of parks. We have also achieved our goal of reducing the number of children on waiting lists for daycare to zero.

In FY2011, Mayor Miyuki Takagishi started a project called “Children’s Letter,” in which children are asked to write down what makes them happy, what troubles them, and what they would like to see done, on a special form for children.

The project is to create a town in which everyone can easily participate. This seems to be one of the major factors in the city’s emergence from a city with the potential to disappear.

Flags are displayed in the shopping district during events to enliven the entire town.
  • Interview and text by Izumi Nakagawa PHOTO Courtesy of Toshima Ward Office

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