Earlier this month, fans of the popular swimming anime Free! Iwatobi Swim Club discovered that the show takes place in a location with a real-life equivalent in our very own Japan. That location is the town of Iwami, located in the country’s Tottori prefecture. I can imagine what must go through locals’ heads when something like this is uncovered: do you bemoan the fact that anime fans will be swarming your streets, or do you enjoy the posterity?
It looks like the citizens of Iwami will be doing the latter. The town’s official blog (yes, it has a blog) has uploaded some photos for comparison with scenes from episode 3 of Free!, and their tourism board has announced that they will be working with Kyoto Animation to hold events and create promotional items.
I don’t blame Iwami for jumping on the Free! bandwagon wholeheartedly. Fan pilgrimages to the real-life settings of anime and manga series are pretty common in Japan; if handled right, it could be a real boon to the local economy. I’m looking forward to seeing what sorts of events and merchandise will come out of this collaboration.