Wall Street Journal

No.13496400 ViewReplyOriginalReport
Popular Cartoon Series Makes
Japanese Shrine a Magnet for Fans
Devotees Are Mainly Young Men, Who Dress
Like the Characters -- in Miniskirts
July 30, 2008; Page A1

WASHIMIYA, Japan -- For many years, Washinomiya Shrine has been a quiet place of worship, attracting just a trickle of sightseers to this sleepy town outside Tokyo. Then last summer, priests started noticing a new kind of visitor.

Young men, some clad in miniskirts, stockings and pastel-colored wigs, were lining up for photos at the shrine's vermilion gate. Over the big New Year's holiday in January, nearly 300,000 such visitors -- almost 10 times the town's population -- showed up, scores of them clad in outfits resembling schoolgirl uniforms.

Discerning fans had figured out that Washinomiya Shrine is regularly featured in "Lucky Star," a wildly popular animated comic that aired as a television series last year. Like the fans of other popular comics, Lucky Star's most ardent followers -- often men in their 20s and 30s -- demonstrate their commitment to the show by engaging in "costume play," or "cosplay," the popular pastime of dressing up as various characters.