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Japan Anime Fans Flock to ‘Demonic’ Spots

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Demon masks for the Onikenbai theatrical folk dance are on display at the Oni no Yakata (Demon’s House) museum in Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture.

MORIOKA — Fans of the megahit anime “Kimetsu no Yaiba” (Demon Slayer) are flocking everywhere and anywhere even remotely connected with its themes and characters.

Since this autumn, for example, people have flocked to a museum and waterfall in Iwate Prefecture. The unexpected flood of visitors has surprised and delighted local residents.

“Kimetsu” fans have come in droves to the Oni no Yakata (Demon’s House) museum in the city of Kitakami since the movie was released. The museum opened in 1994 and is located in the city’s Iwasaki district, which is said to be the birthplace of a theatrical folk dance called Onikenbai. It is also the only museum in the Tohoku region featuring oni demons from all over Japan in such media as picture scrolls and masks.

The number of visitors from April to October was almost halved from the same period last year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, it recovered by 30% to 1,502 in November, according to the museum.

Since the beginning of autumn, the museum has seen visitors wearing Kimetsu merchandise. Chief curator Ayako Aihara said she was very happy that people were interested in oni demons.

The residents’ charter for Kitakami begins, “The high peak, The pride of a demon’s life,” proclaiming the pride of a culture with roots in stories of demons.

“Oni are fearful beings, but they’re not always evil,” Aihara said. “I hope this museum can convey the complex aspects of oni, as depicted in ‘Demon Slayer.’”

The museum is closed through Jan. 4 for the New Year’s holidays.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors photograph the Urokodaki falls in Ninohe, Iwate Prefecture, in December.

In “Demon Slayer,” protagonist Tanjiro Kamado’s master is named Sakonji Urokodaki, and his surname seems to have inspired fans to visit the Urokodaki falls in Ninohe since around November. The spot has gone viral on social media.

“Uroko” means fish scales, and the 7-meter-high waterfall got its name from the fact that the water flowing over the rock surface resembles such scales.

“My wife was watching the anime with our grandchild, so we came here,” a 73-year-old farmer from the city said as he visited the falls with his wife. “I didn’t know there was a place like this near our house.”

A company employee, 35, from Morioka said: “This area is near my parents’ house, but I’d always passed by. I’m a fan of the anime and plan to go see the movie.”

In the anime, the word “urushi” (lacquer) is used for the name of Tanjiro’s killer fighting move. The city of Ninohe is also a production center for lacquer, and the city government said it felt a sense of connection.

“Thanks to the manga and anime, an increasing number of people are visiting the area,” where the waterfall is located, a city official said. “We hope the city will become busy through this increase in visitors.”

Set in the Taisho era (1912-26), “Demon Slayer” tells the story of a boy who becomes a demon slayer after his family is slaughtered by a man-eating demon. His only surviving relative is his sister, who is turned into a demon herself.

The boy embarks on a quest to find a cure for her demon curse and obtain vengeance for his slain family. The original manga was created by Koyoharu Gotoge and carried in the Shukan Shonen Jump weekly manga magazine from 2016 to May of this year.