The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

The Real Life New Year’s in Minobu, Camping Grounds of Rin and Nadeshiko’s Shizuoka Excursion: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part I

“But, rest assured, this will be the fourth time we have written one, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.” –The Architect, The Matrix Reloaded

With Yuru Camp△ 2 now in full swing, and in the interest of not accumulating a large number of anime locations to sift through, I’ve decided to try something a little different this season. Previously, with Houkago Teibou Nisshi and Koisuru Asteroid, I had demonstrated that the Oculus Quest has been an immensely powerful tool for doing anime location hunts while I’m still in my pajamas, before my first cup of Earl Grey. Yuru Camp△ 2 continues to prove the power of VR-powered location hunting. Right out of the gates, this second season takes viewers to the Shizuoka prefecture, as Rin longs to camp by the ocean for a change of scenery. Her journey takes her to Ryukyokayo Koen Auto Camping Ground, and when an unexpected snowstorm prevents Rin from returning home to Yamanashi, she visits Nagisaen Camping Ground in Hamamatsu, near where Nadeshiko lives. By a serendipitous turn of events, Nadeshiko had been, in fact, set to visit family in Hamamatsu, and upon learning that Rin’s here, she visits a day earlier, treating Rin to some of the finest eel in the area before taking her to visit her grandmother and childhood friend, Ayano. The aesthetic of Yuru Camp△ 2 is distinct from that of its predecessor, but the lessons remain strikingly familiar, and Rin’s adventures see her visit attractions that only locals know of, including Kimikura Teahouse near Kakegawa and Shizuka Confectionery in Kanzanjicho. Concurrently with Rin’s adventures, Chiaki and Aoi visit Mount Minobu in order to check out the first sunrise of the year. Par the course with my previous location hunt posts, everything in this post was done using the Oculus Quest and Wander, which makes extensive use of the Google Maps API to retrieve Street View data and project it into a 360° environment, where the immersion makes it easy to really feel as though one were wandering the same places Rin, Nadeshiko and the others pass through. Having previously used the Oculus Quest for location hunting, I’ve found this tool to be remarkably efficient for making posts like these; unlike the location hunt for Koisuru Asteroid, where I’d spent upwards of five hours tracking down everything, this time around, locating the places Rin and Nadeshiko visit in Shizuoka (and Mount Minobu for Chiaki, Aoi, Akari and Minami) only required an hour of searching inside the Oculus Quest.

  • After my Koisuru Asteroid location hunt, I feel like I’m on a streak for location hunting, and so, I’ve opted to write this post sooner so that the locations are still fresh in my mind. This time around, I begin with a rather more ordinary location closer to the girls’ home: Minobu Post Office (2483-37 Umedaira), which is where Nadeshiko takes up a part-time job delivering letters to fund her desire to purchase some serious camping gear. This post office is located across the river from where the girls had stopped after their visit to Caribou during the first season. After the first episode aired, I swiftly found this location by doing a brief search for every post office in the Minobu area that was located near a river: my strategy this season is to locate spots as episodes air, mention them in the episodic post and then do a location hunt post afterwards, consolidating the spots under a post.

  • I appreciate that the post title for these location hunt posts sound very obtuse, but it’s done deliberately to increase search engine visibility – these posts do take a bit of effort, and so, I would like more folks to have a chance to check them out. Back in Yuru Camp△ 2, Rin begins her trip for Shizuoka and travels down Route 10 by early morning, crossing a bridge just north of Nambu while heading south. One of the pluses about the Yamanashi area is that the valley is relatively narrow, and there are fewer routes one can take going north-south. This makes it easy to trace the routes that Rin and the others take to their destinations: since Rin was heading into town here, I worked backwards and travelled north from Nambu to find this spot, located around six hundred metres north of the starting landmark.

  • After arriving in Nambu, Rin runs into Nadeshiko near New Yamazaki Daily, a convenience store at the heart of Nambu: Nadeshiko moved to Nambu from Hamamatsu at the start of term (roughly in September or October), and while she’s spent some time in the area, Yuru Camp△ has her spending a great deal of time in campsites. Heya Camp△ remedies this by having Chiaki and Aoi bring Nadeshiko to local attractions. I originally found this spot by hunting down Nambu Bridge East, which a sign had been pointing to. However, I think this post would be quite unexciting if I stayed in Yamanashi the entire time.

  • So, it’s time to kick things upstairs, and travel some 79 kilometres south south east to Cape Omaezaki, where Rin takes in the beautiful ocean sights. This is the southernmost point in Shizuoka, and there’s a lighthouse here (visible in this image): a lighthouse has existed here since 1635, although it wasn’t until the Meiji Restoration that the modern structures were built. The parking lot Rin makes use of is visible in this scene, as is the lighthouse itself: now a tourist attraction open to the public, the lighthouse had sustained damage during the Second World War, and in 1949, was re-opened with an upgraded Fresnel lens after undergoing repairs.

  • After satisfying her desire to enjoy the ocean (and taking a bunch of photos in the process), Rin travels west along Sun Road to her next destination, a tea shop. This seaside path is indeed beautiful: while Rin’s westbound path takes her away from the ocean, heading eastbound gives drivers an even nicer view of the ocean. The scenery here brings to mind gentler sections of Taiwan’s Hualien-Taitung Coastal Highway (Provincial Highway 11) on the country’s eastern coast. Overlooking the Pacific, Highway 11 passes through some of Taiwan’s best sights, running along narrow cliffs overlooking the ocean’s edge below, but other portions of the highway just north of Taitung are easier to negotiate, presenting a gentle ride along the coast to drivers.

  • After Cape Omaezaki, Rin heads for Kimikura Teahouse. This is a drive of around 30 kilometres, taking an estimated 40 or so minutes to complete. The end result is well worth it: despite being located a bit out of the way, the store sells a variety of teas (senchahojicha and matcha), along with tea sets and other items. Rin runs into a familiar face here: the hiker she’d encountered during the first season happens to work here. After Rin buys tea for her mother, the lady working her suggests that Rin check out the second floor, which is home to a tranquil teahouse that serves a range of teas and Japanese sweets, as well as ochazuke (a simple but tasty rice bowl with savoury ingredients steeped in tea). At the time of writing, it appears that a honey-strawberry parfait is their seasonal special. Kimikura’s tea shop is typically open from 1000 to 1900, and the teahouse itself opens from 1030 to 1800.

  • While Rin worries that the teahouse’s relaxing atmosphere may prevent her from leaving, the prospect of doggos sees her set off for her main event in Iwate: Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine, home of Shippeitarou III. Here, I’ve shown the position of the gate leading to the shrine, which is a 21 kilometre drive from Kimikura Teahouse (assuming Rin takes the routes without tolls, this is a 20 minute journey). Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine is open from 0830 to 1700, and as Yuru Camp△ presents, is home to the spirit of a dog that vanquishes a monkey spirit to keep the nearby village safe. The shrine is also visited by folks praying for academic success.

  • Rin’s final destination for the day is Ryuyokaiyo Koen Auto Camping Ground. Located on the eastern branks of the Tenryū river (Japan’s ninth longest), Ryuyokaiyo Koen offers a variety of camping options for visitors, ranging from RVs and cottages to sites for tents. The “free sites” that Rin camps at doesn’t mean “free of charge”, but rather, refers to an open site that allows a camper to set up their tent wherever they wish on the grounds. Renting a spot here overnight costs 3140 Yen, but since Rin is camping here on a weekday, a 900 Yen discount lowers her price to 2240 Yen.

  • While Ryuyokaiyo Koen is doubtlessly a scenic sight, and the wind farms are visible, much of the path that Rin takes while exploring the coast isn’t covered by Google Street View. As such, I’ve briefly returned the party to Minobu: this is Kaisando (常護堂), a Bhuddist Temple perched on the summit of Mount Minobu. It is here that Chiaki, Aoi, Akari and Minami pray for happiness and success in the New Year ahead of the first sunrise of the year. These are the stairs that everyone climbs en route to the temple itself, replicated faithfully to their real world counterparts.

  • At the top of the steps is the temple proper. Folks looking to visit Kaisando can do so by boarding a tram at Minobu Ropeway. Ascending to a height of 763 metres during its 1665 metre long, 7-minute trip, it would cost Chikai, Aoi and Minami 1500 Yen each for a round trip ticket (Akari’s ticket costs 750 Yen). After reaching the top station, it’s a relatively short walk to Kaisando, and behind the temple is an observation deck overlooking the valley below, perfect for enjoying the first sunrise of the year.

  • With the Minobu sunrise behind us, the next destination is Hamamatsu itself as Rin heads here ahead of Nadeshiko’s arrival. She travels down Route 301, which is adjacent to both the Tōkaidō Main Line and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen; the latter is actually visible in both Yuru Camp△ and the real-world counterpart. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen bullet train began operating in 1964 and could reach speeds of up to 285 km/h, connecting Tokyo to Osaka. The original trains had a maximum speeds of 210 km/h, but upgrades to the technology allows the trains to operate at their current speeds.

  • Because Hamamatsu has 3D buildings, I was able to utilise the Shinkansen’s placement, coupled with rudimentary of geographical features in the area, to locate most of the spots that Rin visits. Knowing that Rin’s path followed the Tōkaidō Shinkansen line, I simply followed this in Google Maps’ 3D mode until I found an underpass matching the one Rin passed by, then switched over to the Oculus Quest, allowing me to find the bridge Rin crosses en route to her next destination, Nagisaen Camping Ground.

  • Nagisaen Camping Ground is located on an artificial island on the southern edge of Lake Hamana. Rin is charged 420 to make use of a free site (again, free as in “FFA”, not “free of charge”), although the website for Nagisaen now gives the price as being 410 Yen. I imagine that the location on an artificial island means that Nagisaen is a veritable oasis amongst the urban bustle of Hamamatsu (a city of around 800 thousand people). There’s an aquarium on this island, as well, but given Rin’s funds remaining, she chooses not to visit (320 Yen per adult), instead, heading off to see the ocean. Details of the main building are faithfully replicated, right down to the placement of vending machines.

  • Kaishunro Hotel is located on the island Rin had entered earlier, being adjacent to Bentenjima Seaside Park. From this site, Bentenjima Red Gate can be easily seen: after Rin enjoys a relaxing onsen soak here for 800 Yen, she comes upon a crowd gathered to see the sunset. Visitors report that the onsen‘s waters are very pleasant, and while the hotel offers both indoor and open air baths, the latter are a mixed area, so one must bring a swimsuit to use it. Rin, on the other hand, is content to enjoy the onsen in a traditional manner through the indoor baths. After returning to her campsite, Rin begins looking at buying a little something for Nadeshiko.

  • The next morning, Rin has the instant noodles Nadeshiko had given her (they did come in handy, after all!) before setting off for Kanzanji. Upon her arrival, she’s greeted by the sight of streets full of restaurants serving unagi (eel), and in a moment reminiscent of the 1945 film The Lost Weekend, struggles with the idea that she doesn’t have enough funds to try the area’s eel out. However, she does get what she came for: here at Shizuka Confectionary, the strawberry daifuku are indeed something the shop is famous for, but should these sell out, it is fortunate that the shop’s other products are excellent, too.

  • While Rin is panicking about the crowds of shoppers equally as excited as she is about the strawberry daifuku, Nadeshiko swings by Fujita, a confectionary store near Kiga Station – this store has been around for just a shade over half a century and is very well-known in the area. Nadeshiko picks up custard cream filled imagawayaki (今川焼き), a pancake-like dessert that originated from the Edo-period. Besides a cream filling, this shop also offers imagawayaki with anko (red bean) paste. Fujita’s imagawayaki is said to be particularly delicious, being flavourful without overwhelming the palette and going for 120 Yen apiece (hence Nadeshiko’s ordering two!). Visitors should keep in mind that the shop is closed between June and September.

  • Hamanako-Sakume Station is located only twenty minutes away from Kiga Station, and it is here that Nadeshiko meets with Rin. While an otherwise unremarkable location in Yuru Camp△, the actual station is indeed home to flocks of black-headed gulls. The original station was constructed in 1938, and since 1970, the station no longer has any active staff. This station is probably one of the quietest I’ve written about, averaging around 25 passengers a day.

  • Sakume is just across the road from Hamanako-Sakume Station, and this unassuming building is home to a brilliant unagi restaurant. As Yuru Camp△ portrays, eels are prepared live in front of patrons: they are gutted, cleaned and then grilled over charcoal. The resultant eel is said to be melt-in-your mouth and has an excellent taste owing to how fresh it is: it is unsurprising that Rin finds herself in flavour heaven after taking her first bite. Yuru Camp△ appears to have changed some details slightly, having the restaurant serve different qualities of eel: in reality, Sakume offers two types, and three portion sizes for each. Further to this, the prices seen in Yuru Camp△ are a bit more conservative than they are in reality.

  • After lunch, Nadeshiko and Rin continue down the road (Route 310), past a railway crossing. The elevated freeway above is a part of the Tomei Expressway, a toll road. These small details serve to reiterate that Yuru Camp△ is very much about providing the most authentic experience possible, and with the exception of the characters’ houses, everything is rendered with a very high degree of precision, right down to the patterns on the barriers and railway signs at this crossing. Locations such as these, ordinary intersections or sections of road, are normally much trickier to find, but fortunately, this spot was located a shade under three hundred metres from Sakume, and so, proved very easy to find.

  • I’ll close off this first part with a screenshot of what the actual site of Nadeshiko’s grandmother’s house looks like compared to its anime counterpart: there’s a vacant lot here instead of a small, cozy-looking house. I found it by following Route 310 along the shores of Lake Hamana until I found this building, with its distinct x-railing guards and red roof. Because this is a vacant lot, there are no residents to hassle, but folks who visit this area for real should still be respectful of folks who live in the area. With this post in the books, I will be returning to write about Yuru Camp△ again once the fourth episode airs, and in the meantime, it’s time to focus my efforts on a reflection of Left 4 Dead 2, now that I’ve finished the original campaign, as well as my thoughts on Black Mesa‘s first act.

This post is likely to be the first of several Yuru Camp△ 2 location hunts; because the series has previously indicated it would be faithful to real-world locations, it stands to reason that the remaining episodes in the series will take viewers to hitherto-unvisited locations, all of which have their own history and special features worth sharing. Location hunt posts are always fun: in the current climate, these Oculus Quest powered ones demonstrate how a little imagination and powerful hardware can confer upon folks adventures to tide them over. Under ordinary conditions, location hunt posts give readers an idea of where everything in an anime is located, allowing folks to plan out their own excursions to Japan and experience the things that are portrayed in a given anime. Whether it be my location hunt posts, or those from other bloggers and writers, I do hope that readers will find the information contained in these posts useful for anything from creating dinner conversation to drafting out plans for an actual visit. Of course, having now seen Yuru Camp△‘s presentation of specialties in Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, viewers are better prepared for their own travels should they decide to check out Nadeshiko’s hometown: for instance, since real-life visitors won’t have the equivalent of a Nadeshiko around, they would do well to carry some extra cash if they’re interested in sitting down to a delicious eel special for lunch (it’s always useful to have a little extra cash in Japan, since some of the smaller shops and restaurants do not accept credit cards). Having showcased some of the attractions Yuru Camp△ 2 takes viewers to, I will be returning periodically to explore other locations; so as long as Google Street View or Google My Business, and its associated photographs and 360° images, are available for said locations, it would be possible to immerse oneself in Yuru Camp△ from the comfort of a good chair, without digging out one’s passport, which is the next best thing to being in Japan in person.

3 responses to “The Real Life New Year’s in Minobu, Camping Grounds of Rin and Nadeshiko’s Shizuoka Excursion: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Yuru Camp△ 2, Part I

  1. magicconan14 (Aria) January 28, 2021 at 06:36

    I remember hearing about a building shaped like a harmonica (Act City Tower Observatory) from another anime set in Hamamatsu, Classicaloid. Have you ever seen it on your location hunts, by any chance?

    Like

    • infinitezenith January 29, 2021 at 17:48

      I’ve never seen the Act City Tower on account of not being familiar with Classicaloid during this particular location hunt: all of the spots I have are set at the city’s edges, and Act City Tower is located at basically the heart of Hamamatsu. Still, it is definitely cool to see more anime sharing a home with some of the spots seen in Yuru Camp△!

      Like

  2. Pingback: Geology and furry noir – Zoopraxiscope

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