Hiya! I’m back with another blog post and this time is a bit special because I don’t normally write about my fangirling life in Japan. Maybe you don’t know me, but I do really like this anime series called Free! It supposed to tell a story about swimming club and friendship and recently they finished airing the 3rd season of the series (and still continue to 2020). The story itself is inspired by a small town in Tottori Prefecture called Iwami. I haven’t been there before and because last week was Makoto’s birthday (one of the character, Tachibana Makoto), so me and several friends did the Free! Pilgrimage to Iwami.
Preparation and Stuffs
I went there last week (16-17 November) with 3 friends: polar bear, saba-chan, and shark. It was not their first time, but it was my first time there. They came all prepared with itabags and stuffs and I also bring my nui (plushies) and manjyuu plushies too.
We went there by a night bus (15th Nov) and arrived the next day. The first place we went to is the tourism association. The tourism association is just next to the station and that’s the only place where you can rent a bike. I suggest to rent a bike or a car if you want to do the pilgrimage because taxi is too expensive and bus is not that frequent.
We originally wanted to rent for 2 days, but because it was Makoto’s birthday, the bike is all-rented for the 17th and we can only rent for a day. The rent price is 500¥ plus 500¥ refundable deposit.
Inside the the Tourism Association, you’ll find some goods related with Free and Iwami. You can also find a lot of birthday messages and fanarts.
We then have lunch on Roman Cafe just across the station. Inside you can find Free! decorations and the menu is also inspired by Free!
Free! Pilgrimage to Iwami
After lunch, we rode our bike to Santec. Santec is a store that sells Free! related stuffs in Iwami. They have plushies, keychain, and everything. You can also leave a fanart and message on Santec guestbook.
The owner was really kind, he told us he will give free badges to 117 first visitor on Makoto’s birthday the next day. And we spotted a Makoto’s car in front of Santec
(This car interior is full of Makoto’s decoration. The exterior is all green, even the license number is Makoto’s birthday)
And off we go to the pilgrimage! I’ll introduce the locations that you have to visit!
Tajiri Port and Tajiri Shrine
This is the stairways that lead to Makoto’s and Haru’s home. Actually there’s an actual house that should be Makoto’s house in the anime. However, Haru’s house is actually just an empty lot
If you go all the way up to the stairs, turn right and just follow the road. You’ll reach the viewing point. This is where Makoto and Haruka has the first fight on season 2 during the fireworks. Actually every summer in Iwami, there’s a fireworks festival and a lot of fans go to this viewing point to recreate the scene.
Go up the hills and you’ll find a school. You’ll find a school with a playground. This is where Makoto and Haruka played as a kid (that scene in Free! Timeless Medley: Kizuna, Makoto fell when playing in the sandbox)
Uradome Beach and Arasuna Jinja.
This is where Makoto and Haruka did their daily running along the beach. Arasuna Jinja is the place where Makoto met Rin on season 2 (if I’m not mistaken)
Hino Jinja is the place where Sousuke and Rin did a running competition where they were a kid and bet on ice. This is also the place where both of them did their very first fist bump.
Higashihama Station and Tunnel
This is the place where Gou accidentally saw Sousuke who
lost was about to go to hospital
Unfortunately I don’t really remember the name of the tunnel. But it’s really close to the school which was used as Sano Middle School in the Anime. if you go from Tajiri, just go all the way to the mountain top
This is where Rin first appear.
Actually there’s a lot more places I visited or passed such as: the train intersection when Haru met Rin after he came back from Australia for a while, Rin’s dad cemetery, Sano’s model school, the river bank where Sousuke sits in the middle of winter. I want to show all the pictures, but it’s going to be a long long post.
Makoto’s Birthday Celebration.
We stayed in a Yado called Tabibito no Yado NOTE. The place also organise the birthday event. The decorate the whole place in Makoto and green color:
Including the toilet lol
The next day (November 17). If you go to the Tourism Association and handed in a birthday message, they’ll give you a badges and chocolates. This only limited to the first 100 people. Santec also do this too (first 117 people), so a lot of fans do a rally early in the morning.
I’ll stop here. I have more than 500 pictures and I don’t want to make it messy. I’ll post some more photo of Makoto’s birthday on my tumblr.
Tips when visiting Iwami:
- Most of the lodge accept reservation via phone, and limited English. Better to ask your friend in Japanese (I can help)
- No shinkansen stop at Iwami. The easiest access is to take a bus to Tottori, or take the plane to Tottori.
- Rent a bike or car. During the high season or character bday, I recommend you to call the tourism center in advance an book the bike.
- The snow is pilling up during winter, on certain day, riding bike is prohibited (when the snow is really too much)
- Summer is the high season in Iwami. If you plan to visit in Summer, plan well.
- Basically plan your trip well.
- Be nice to the environment and the other fans too, happy fangirling!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAKOTO!