Dishing out Silver Spoon

Agricultural Tourism in the Tokachi-Obihiro Area of Hokkaido

Michele M. Mason



Arakawa Hiromu’s best-selling manga Silver Spoon, which began serialization in 2011, kicked off an impromptu migration of fans to the story’s setting, the Tokachi-Obihiro region of Hokkaido. Both local tourism officials and agricultural stakeholders quickly devised a number of strategies to capitalize on the newfound interest in their region. Their efforts only intensified when anime and film versions were released in 2013 and 2014. This article examines the ways local officials, business owners, and other constituents have pursued not only profits from Silver Spoon-inspired tourism, but also the chance to offer a different picture of agricultural life than is typically disseminated in the media. Below, I demonstrate how the promotion of Ban’ei horse racing, a wide-variety of agricultural products, and hands-on farming and food production experiences are at the heart of local community’s attempts to appropriate the cultural capital of Silver Spoon to craft narratives of Tokachi identity, heritage, and pride.



Author Biography

Michele M. Mason is an Associate Professor of modern Japanese cultural studies at the University of Maryland. She is author of Dominant Narratives of Colonial Hokkaido and Imperial Japan (Palgrave, 2012) and Reading Colonial Japan: Text, Context and Critique (Stanford UP, 2012, with Helen J.S. Lee). Mason’s work on Silver Spoon grows out of an interest in manga, which can be seen in her article “Writing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the 21st Century: A New Generation of Historical Manga” in The Asia-Pacific Journal (2009) and the chapter “Bodies of Anger: Atomic Survivors in Nakazawa Keiji’s Black Series Manga” in Rewriting History in Manga: Stories for the Nation (Palgrave, 2016, Eds. Nissim Otamazgin and Rebecca Suter).