By TAKUYA MIYANO/ Staff Writer
October 9, 2020 at 06:30 JST
FUKUOKA--Anime, manga and video game fans are spotlighting some of their favorite characters by opening their wallets to book colorful nighttime tributes on a local landmark.
When Fukuoka Tower Corp. started accepting applications from the public to light up the city's 234-meter-high landmark in the color of their choice on Aug. 1, staff mostly expected to receive requests for anniversary surprises and other special occasions.
They even suspected some would want to show support for their favorite sports teams or pop idol performers. But it never occurred to them it would lead to die-hard fans shelling out to celebrate the birthdays of their favorite fictional characters.
"We thought there might be requests when pop idols release new songs or perform here as part of their tours, but we never thought of birthdays of characters," said Takenori Nakamura, 42, who works at the company's planning division.
Lighting events are limited to one party per night, and the tower can be lit up for 10 minutes in one of seven colors: red, blue, green, yellow, purple, orange or pink. The fee is 30,000 yen ($287), including tax.
The operator accepts reservations two months in advance of the date and has already received more than 30 requests.
Nakamura said the tower is usually lit in colors matching seasonal events, such as Halloween and Christmas, from sunset to 10 p.m.
The operator began offering to display a lit-up heart for couples in 2006, but it came up with its latest personal-lighting option to appeal to a wider range of people.
Then one dedicated fan had her own light-bulb moment. A tweet proposing to spotlight one of the characters attracted more than 20,000 retweets.
"Let's turn the Fukuoka Tower purple on Tokiya's birthday on Aug. 6."
It was posted by a company worker living in Niigata Prefecture who is a fan of Tokiya Ichinose, a character from the "Uta no Prince-sama" video game, whose color theme is purple.
She did not visit the tower that day, but instead watched a live feed from a webcam set up by a local broadcaster. Images of the purple-lit tower quickly spread on the social networking platform.
A dedicated manga fan wanted to celebrate the birthday of Noriaki Kakyoin, from "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure," by having Fukuoka Tower lit up green in tribute to the character and the ghostly power he can summon called Hierophant Green.
Fans of various series have made at least 10 lighting tribute requests to celebrate the birthdays of their favorite fictional characters, the company said.
"We thought we would be lucky to receive one reservation a month, but we're grateful for the attention," Nakamura said.
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