Evangelion x Hakone 2020: Stations, Spas and More “Evangelion-ized” as Resort Town Becomes “Tokyo-3”
Guideto JapanTravel Anime
First hitting airwaves in October 1995, Neon Genesis Evangelion was hugely popular and is credited with reviving Japan’s anime industry. It was followed by two hit theatrical-release films, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion (both in 1997). In 2006, a four-film series, Rebuild of Evangelion, was announced. Following the success of the first three of these releases, the final film is now slated to hit theaters on June 27, 2020.
In anticipation of this final release, the Odakyū Group has partnered with the travel company Fujita Kankō to create “Evangelion x Hakone 2020: Meet Evangelion in Hakone,” a project they are billing as the “Evangelion-ization” of the Kanagawa Prefecture resort town, running from January 10 to June 30.
Evangelion is set in a post-apocalyptic world brought upon by the cataclysmic Second Impact. There, a group of sensitive and precocious 14-year olds become the pilots of huge, humanoid weapons known as “Evangelions,” or “Eva Units,” fighting the threat of the mysterious enemy life-forms called Angels. All this takes place in and around Tokyo-3, a fortified city constructed on the northern shores of Lake Ashinoko in Hakone. While “pilgrimages” by fans of the series to this area have been happening for years, the start of global streaming of Evangelion on Netflix in June 2019 brought a new surge in visitors from overseas.
Decorated Buses and Trains
One of the most visible parts of the new collaboration are tour buses decorated in Evanglion-based schemes. Five Hakone Tozan buses and Odakyū Hakone Express shuttle buses decorated in colors evoking each of the main Evangelion machines are circulating through the Hakone area. Likewise, Odakyū Hakone Express buses providing service between Shinjuku in Tokyo and Gotenba (Shizuoka Prefecture) and Hakone feature the main characters of the show, giving people in Tokyo glimpses of the project as well. Onboard announcements are made in the voice of the character Katsuragi Misato, making it worth Eva fans’ time to ride as well as see the buses.
Nerv Headquarters and an EVA Unit 01 Statue
Tōgendai Station acts as the gateway to tourism for the Lake Ashinoko area, with stations for Odakyū Hakone Express and Hakone Tozan buses, the Hakone Ropeway, and the Hakone Pirate Ship port. In Rebuild of Evangelion, “Tōgendai Central Station” appears as the terminal station for Tokyo-3. It connects to Nerv, the special security organization to which Ikari Shinji, the story’s protagonist, is assigned.
Tōgendai Station, now also sporting the alternate name of “Tokyo-3 Station,” is central to the project, and its main hall has been modified to appear as a Nerv base of operations. A 2-meter statue of an EVA Unit 01 placed in the center of the station commands visitors’ attention, and even the gift shop and restroom signage has been modified in the Evangelion style.
The Spear of Longinus in Hakone Gōra Park
Fans will want to search out the Spear of Longinus, an extraterrestrial artifact in the show. A replica of this weapon has been set up in Hakone Gōra Park, famous for its flower displays. The name of the park is familiar to Eva fans as part of the “Gōra Absolute Defense Line.” Climbing the slope to the fountain in the center of the park will reveal a bright, crimson spear, 3.7 meters long, skewering the ground. It will only be on display through the end of March, so plan your visit soon!
Hakone Kowakien Yunessun’s “Second Impact Bath”
For those fans who literally want to immerse themselves in the Eva experience, Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, a spa amusement park that can be enjoyed with swimwear, is offering a special experience. The waters of the their “Rodeo Mountain” water slide and the “Cave Bath” have been dyed red to simulate the reddened seas of the world of Evangelion, in what they call the “Second Impact Bath.”
The facility’s interior walls, pillars, staircases, and more have been decorated in a special Evangelion theme. The ultimate highlight is the special collaboration menu items offered at their restaurant and food court. Dishes like the EVA Unit 01 Sundae and Second Impact Gelatin evoke the mood of the series for fans. And of course, “Garlic ramen, hold the roast pork” is on the menu, too, just like Ayanami Rei herself ordered in the show! Yunessun offers something special for all five senses of Eva fans.
Touring Hakone to Complete the Stamp Collection
A Tokyo-3 Stamp Rally is also being held as part of the “Evangelion x Hakone 2020” festivities. Those who buy Hakone Free Pass tickets providing access to all the area’s public transportation routes will also be given a special stamp collection sheet that also serves as their guide map to the Hakone area. In addition to showing all the locations where visitors can collect souvenir stamps, it highlights the spots in Hakone that appeared in Evangelion, making it a must-have item for visiting fans.
In October of 2019, Typhoon Hagibis caused landslides and other heavy damage to the Hakone area, and extensive repair work will keep the Hakone Tozan rail service suspended until the fall of 2020. This collaboration was designed with the hope of helping speed the area’s recovery from this natural disaster. Hakone Tozan buses are providing access to areas with suspended rail service, making this a very special opportunity to pay a visit to “Tokyo-3”!
(Originally published in Japanese. Reporting, text, and photos by Nippon.com.)