The festival procession passing by Ningyocho

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Answering Anime Fans’ Prayers–Love Live! fans pay pilgrimage to the Kanda Myojin.

All the stars were aligned for fans of the Love Live! anime during this year’sKanda Festival held from May 9-10. For the first time, they got to pay pilgrimage officially at the Kanda Myojin, which appears frequently in the anime as a backdrop, and buy limited-edition official good luck charms and prayer tablets from the shrine featuring the anime’s characters. This collaboration between the Shinto shrine and hit anime is a sign of the growing influence of subculture – even into the sacred space of shrines and one of Japan’s biggest festivals!

The Kanda Myojin Shrine
The Kanda Myojin Shrine

Love Live! charms

Love Live! is about a group of nine schoolgirls who decide to form a school idol group to raise the profile of their school which is on the verge of closing down due to low enrollment. Combining the concept of live idols with anime, this series hit the right note with the audience and since its magazine debut in 2010, has sold music CDs, games, become a TV series, and will even release its first movie this June. And you know you’ve arrived when you find your image endorsing the official good luck ema prayer tablets or protective charms of a historical shrine like Kanda Myojin.

Prayer tablet featuring the Love Live! members
Prayer tablet featuring the Love Live! members

Kanda hard to imagine?

Unlike Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines – which are indigenously Japanese – are more open to such collaborations and adapt to the times. Previous collaborations include a “Kanda Myojin Day” at the Tokyo Dome with the baseball team Tokyo Giants. This is reflective of the Shinto philosophy where the religion is action-oriented and focuses on ritual practices to connect present-day Japan to its ancient past. And how can present day Japan not give any recognition to its booming subculture of anime? Moreover, the Kanda Myojin is just a stone’s throw from the mecca of otaku, Akihabara. Apparently, Love Live! fans already pay pilgrimage to the Kanda Myojin, where Nozomi, one of the characters, works as a part-time shrine maiden.

Omamori charm featuring Love Live! character Nozomi

From Akihabara to Kanda Myojin Museum

And who knows, within the next 100 years, there may be a poster of the Love Live! school idol group rocking out hung on the walls of the Kanda Myojin Museum, where currently paintings from the Edo era, such as a ukiyoe painting of a kabuki performance with an accompanying instrumental ensemble performing at the Kanda Festival, are displayed.

Fans flock to the festival

Fans flocked to the shrine to be the first in line to get their hands on these Love Live! collaboration goods. But first, many offered their prayers, hung up their ema with original manga drawings, and took selfies with the shrine that appears in the anime.

Fans with their Love Live! posters

The Love Live! Kitchen Car also made its debut at the festival, filling hungry fans with limited Kanda Festival-themed Love Live! lattes, sodas, juices and marshmallows.

The Love Live! Kitchen Car

For more about Love Live!, visit their official English website: http://www.lovelive-anime.jp/worldwide/

©2013 Project Love Live!

This article was written with the assistance of Fields Research Institute, which conducts research in entertainment.

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