ANN in Japan: The Details!

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ANN and PacSet have teamed up to create a trip to Japan for ANN’s readership! Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this, you’re interested in that trip, or wondering why it has the content it does. SO: let’s dive into some details.

The trip includes a lot of stuff that you might not commonly associate with Anime. For starters, we’re going to a University Festival, making soba, and going to the massive Oeshiki Festival at Ikegami Honmonji Temple. We’re also visiting a number of places that have inspired artists for years, such as Dakigaeri Gorge and Matsushima. Of course, we’re also doing a lot of what you are expecting – Nakano Broadway, Akihabara, the Ghibli Museum… you get the idea. My hope is that the trip gives you chances to step off the beaten path and have an experience that is uniquely yours, maybe discovering a new favorite stop/hobby in the process. 

On top of all that, we’re going to have a special guest from ANN joining us for the duration of the trip! Additional ANN guests to join for dinner and/or day trips from time to time. Details about who will be joining the fray will be announced soon, but trust us – If you read ANN, you’ve seen their names before. ;)

The first thing on my mind when I designed this trip was that I didn’t want it to be the stereotypical “anime tour.” As a former ANN staff myself, I wanted to create something unique for ANN’s readership that includes some of what people are expecting to find on a trip like this but also eschews the expected in favor of unique experiences that let people do more than just buy stuff and actually get a chance to see a unique side of Japan. Half of this itinerary might not scream “ANIME”, but that’s by design, and I think you may discover that a lot of the experiences will remind you of scenes and backgrounds from a lot of the anime you’ve seen.

Stereotypical thinking says that the anime fan going to Japan must love Akihabara more than anywhere else, must spend tons of time shopping, and so on. However, much like most stereotypes of anime fans, most of that is just plain wrong, and if there’s anything we’ve discovered in our eight years of existence, it’s that anime fans have a list of interests that is even more diverse than that of the usual Japan visitor.

For starters, even though close to 90% of PacSet’s business comes from the fan community, we’ve been able to run popular trips way beyond Tokyo to places like rural Kyushu, multiple hole-in-the-wall izakaya in Aomori, and even Ogasawara (which is only accessible by a 24 hour ferry ride – one way!). When we surveyed our alumni last year, we discovered that Tokyo was the main draw for over 75 percent of guests before their trip. However, after the trip, the number of people who said Tokyo was the best part of their trip fell to just 30 percent, while locations like Hokkaido, Tohoku and Osaka saw double-digit increases.

On top of that, when ANN surveyed fans a few months ago about potential interest in a trip like this, the amount of interest in the Tokyo Game Show (a massive video game trade show) was equal to the interest in a traditional festival, which also tracks with what we’ve seen in our surveys as well. “Big draw” events like AnimeJapan and Tokyo Game Show do interest people going to Japan, but they have never been voted the highlight of anyone’s trip (they’ve been voted as the lowlight a number of times though).

All of that, along with the feedback of current and former ANN Staff, are what has contributed to the unique look of this trip. The itinerary combines the best parts of Tokyo and some really amazing stuff in Tohoku that we’ve found that anime fans really enjoy. On top of that, we get to visit and support a number of areas that are still coming back from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, so you’re also supporting a few areas that will really benefit from our visit.

If you have any questions about the trip, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, or just email us at info at pacsettravel dot com.

See you in Japan! - Evan :)

Evan MillerComment