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Rural Japan counts on anime 'holy sites' to lure foreign tourists

Publishing house Kadokawa partners with Japan Airlines to turn fans into pilgrims

A popular destination among anime fans is Ibaraki Prefecture's Oarai, the setting for the "Girls und Panzer" series featuring tank battles among schoolgirls. A local train carries the images of the main characters. (Photo by Takuya Fujisawa) 

TOKYO -- Kadokawa, a big Japanese publisher, is beckoning anime lovers to Japan. Actually, it is trying to make pilgrims out of them.

In February, Kadokawa opened an information center inside its office building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. That information center is now Fudasho Stop 1, a guidepost of sorts that marks the beginning of a trail of 88 "holy sites" that the Anime Tourism Association suggests should be visited.

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