What is “Contents Tourism”?

This month we published Contents Tourism and Pop Culture Fandom edited by Takayoshi Yamamura and Philip Seaton. In this post the editors explain where the concept of “contents tourism” originated and what it means.

If you ask someone what “contents tourism” is, they will most probably not be able to tell you. If you explain to someone what contents tourism is and then ask them if they have done it, they will most probably say that they have, and many times …

Let’s take a fan of Harry Potter as an example. She has read the novels, watched the films, visits the Pottermore website occasionally, and has purchased various merchandise. One day she goes to King’s Cross Station to see Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. We might be tempted to call her a “literary tourist” because she first wanted to visit King’s Cross after reading the Harry Potter novels as a child. But then, after visiting King’s Cross she makes her way to the Millennium Bridge crossing the Thames. The bridge was an important filming location for the sixth film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but the bridge does not appear in the novel. At this moment she is a “film location tourist”. Her final destination for the day is an exhibition about Harry Potter and magic at the British Library. This features in neither the films nor the novels, but gives insights into the magical background of the world created by JK Rowling.

Sarah engaging in some contents tourism at Hobbiton in New Zealand

The common denominator in her day out is “the contents”, in other words the characters, narratives, locations and other creative elements of mediatized works of entertainment (in this case, Harry Potter). The concept of contents tourism is of particular use when fans visit real world places connected to either fictional or non-fictional narrative worlds that have been created by multiple works of entertainment in various media formats. The concept originated in Japan, but as we demonstrate in Contents Tourism and Pop Culture Fandom, contents tourism is a truly worldwide phenomenon. The book contains 13 chapters by authors looking at transnational case studies of contents tourism in North America, Europe, East/Southeast Asia and Oceania. From fantasy games in Poland to cosplay in Indonesia, and from the pilgrimages of anime fans in South Korea to riding in the footsteps of poets in Australia, we take you around the world and show you the many ways in which “contents” have turned ordinary places into tourist sites with special meaning for fans of popular culture.

Takayoshi Yamamura and Philip Seaton

For more information about this book please see our website

If you found this interesting, you might also like Heritage, Screen and Literary Tourism by Sheela Agarwal and Gareth Shaw.

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