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Mysterious Doorways to Nowhere Appear in Suzume's Real-Life Locales

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Tourism continues strong in Iwate Prefecture's Miyako, Yamada towns after doorways were erected in February

Suzume is a film that seems tailor-made for anime pilgrimage lovers. The action is sprawled all the way across Japan, from the Miyazaki Prefecture on the Kyushu island to the Iwate Prefecture in the Tо̄hoku region. Some of the locations depicted in the film are notably very remote, but fans have noticed that they have gained new landmarks since the film's release: rustic doorways that lead to nowhere.

The doors, of course, play prominent roles in the film's plot. However, as a fan pointed out in a viral tweet last Friday, what's remarkable isn't just that they have been replicated in real life—the desolate backdrops remain completely unchanged. Even though the spots have become tourist attractions thanks to Suzume's popularity, the scenery still looks exactly as it does in the film even months after its release. This gives the locales a sense of haunting power, especially given the dramatic context in which they appear in the film.

The door shown in the above tweet is located in a vacant lot in the city of Miyako. The Mainichi reported that the door appeared on February 23. The identity of the craftsman is withheld, but the landowner gave permission for the door to be built.

The Yamada Town Tourism Association earlier set up a door in the town of Yamada, also in the Iwate Prefecture, on February 18. Local joinery business Taro Kunimitsu crafted the door, which measures approximately two meters tall and one meter wide. The town publishes an extensive pilgrimage guide on its website highlighting all the locations that appear in the film. The local Orikasaeki Station displays posters and models of film's iconic three-legged chair and cats.

Twitter user Kintetsu noted in their thread that watching Suzume was an invitation to reflect on the impact of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. They also praised the food in the Sanriku area, which means that there plenty of good reasons to visit.

The film opened in Japan at #1 on November 11. The film ended its run in Japanese theaters on May 27, and it recorded an estimated final box office revenue of 14.79 billion yen (about US$105.3 million), and 11.15 million tickets sold.

In various interviews around the film's release, director Makoto Shinkai has discussed the impact of the earthquake on the film's storytelling and reception. He noted that he was initially nervous about promoting the film in the Tōhoku region, and was surprised when residents approached him to say, "Thank you."

Although he also noted that there are some people who were offended that he chose to depict a topic so close to home, he added: "But at the same time, does that mean I shouldn't have made it? I think it's been twelve years now [since the disaster], and I think, while some people in Japan are starting to forget what happened, I think it's right that someone should be dealing with these real-life events in the form of entertainment and sharing what happened."

[Via Hachima Kikо̄]

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