From Holy Site to Parking Lot: Kincho Shrine to be Torn Down
By Kasaix • 5 months ago • 6 comments

 

The Kincho Shrine in the city of Tokushima, on the southern island of Shikoku, has long been linked to tanuki, or the Japanese raccoon dog. Tanuki appear in a number of myths, legends, and popular media in the form of bake-danuki, a type of yokai or spirit. In popular media, Mario of Super Mario Bros. fame, dresses like a tanuki to fly. This particular shrine is just as famous for its appearance in popular media.

 

On July 16, 1994, Studio Ghibli released Pom Poko, known in Japan as Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko, or Heisei-era Raccoon Dog War Ponpoko. The movie followed a group of tanuki who used their shape-shifting powers to defend their habitat against human developers. It was writted and produced by the recently-passed Isao Takahata. It was very-well received, reaching number one Japanese film on the domestic market in 1994, earning ¥2.63 billion for the studio. It was chosen as the Japanese submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1994, and also won Best Animation Film at the 49th Mainichi Film Awards. To say it was, and still is, popular is putting it mildly.

 

Since the movie released, it became a popular tourist site. The people who loved the movie wanted to see where it was set. However, reality is catching up to fiction, as human developers are coming, leaving otaku and local residents to take the roles of tanuki. Since the announcement, both otaku and residents are letting their voices be heard, even launching a Change.org petition about the matter. City planners have assured the masses that nothing is set in stone right now, and pointed out that the shrine itself, as well as the land it's on, are both privately-owned, and they can't do anything without permission from the owner. Still, we've seen this play out before. Governments and big businesses aren't shy about skirting the law to get what they want. Let's get our tanuki on.