A few months ago, we posted about a stamp rally in poet Nakahara Chuuya’s home town of Yudaonsen, Yamaguchi Prefecture, because it had tie-ins with the Bungo Stray Dogs anime. On the very last day of the event, a friend and I were fortunate enough to make it to Yudaonsen to participate in the rally, which ended up being a lot of fun.
We worried that since it was the last day, we’d be the only people running around town, or that the rally prizes would be gone, but we need not have worried. Downtown Yudaonsen (which is a sleepy little place indeed) had more than a few young women (and one elderly gentleman) wandering around that afternoon.
I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect, since the only stamp rally I’d ever done before was in Shibuya, going from game center to game center for a Kuroko no Basuke rally. I think Yudaonsen did a very nice job, showing off both this quaint little neighborhood of Yamaguchi city and the hometown hero. The map for the event was easy to read (though we were following fangirls for the first few stops) and each stamp area was identified by banners of BSD Chuuya and was associated with a character from the anime.
Yudaonsen is filled with fox statues and hot spring foot baths. I took lots of pictures of foxes, but wasn’t dressed for the hot springs, alas. The rally route we took brought us first to a little park that had a tea house (the stamping point) and a few rock sculptures carved with Chuuya’s poetry. Other stops took us to the source of a hot spring, a couple of local stores (selling special mini-castella cakes with poetry cards illustrated with outlines of Chuuya), the local library, the Yudaonsen tourism/info center and, lastly the Nakahhara Chuuya museum, which was sponsoring the rally.
The museum itself is small, but nice. Exhibits on the first floor discuss Chuuya’s life and poetry, including those he was influenced by, and those he influenced, while the second floor is dedicated to Nakahara Chuuya in popular culture. In addition to BSD, Chuuya shows up in several other manga, and his poetry has inspired more than one. The single most striking item on exhibit was an incredible drawing by mangaka Asada Hiroyuki (Tegami Bachi), who has also illustrated the covers to bunko releases of Chuuya’s poetry. The sketch is sad and beautiful and I wish they had been selling prints of it. I’d buy one in a heartbeat. (Click the image below to see a larger version. I could not get a better picture because of the glass and lighting, alas.)
After we finished viewing the exhibits, we went back to the front counter to show our filled cards and claim our clear file and post card. I also picked up a French copy of his poetry, to use in conjunction with the Japanese version I own. Hopefully I can brush up on both. The friend with me helped me work through some of the poems on display at the museum … they do not give the impression of a happy man. (The French translations corroborate that feeling.) The museum also had Chuuya’s iconic hat for sale, but at 27,000 yen, it wasn’t to be.
The visitor center across the street from the museum was hosting a collaboration exhibit and cafe, so we stopped by to take pictures and for sweets and sake (they had samplers!).
All in all, it was a lovely day and I was glad to see so many obvious BSD fans out enjoying the rally. And I was very glad to see a literary museum fully embracing the pop culture side of its subject.
Here’s a few more pics, and if you want to see more of Yudaonsen, my full gallery is here.