The Oita Prefecture city of Hita is the hometown of Hajime Isayama, the manga artist behind Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), one of the best-selling manga of all time. There are 110 million copies in circulation worldwide as of September 2022, according to its publisher Kodansha Ltd.
In recognition of their local hero's achievements, the people of Hita dreamed of bringing Attack on Titan to life. With the support of Isayama, who wanted to give back to his hometown, the town launched an interactive program called Shingeki no Kyojin in Hita.
Encompassing both indoor and outdoor sites, the complete experience allows visitors to become part of the manga. Fans can read frames and see characters around the city via AR, view rare exhibits, and even enjoy themed drinks and take home original souvenirs.
Unlocking the AR
Although Isayama departed for Tokyo at age 20 to pursue a career in writing manga, he retained a deep affection for his hometown and featured many of its landmarks in his most famous work. The most popular part of the Shingeki no Kyojin in Hita program is the interactive and high-tech app that introduces famous landmarks that appear in the manga.
Attack on Titan is set in a world overrun by gigantic humanoids who attack humans on sight, forcing people to live in cities surrounded by massive perimeter walls for protection. After opening the app, users can see the titans breaking through the perimeter walls and beginning their invasion of Hita. They are invited to take on the challenge of battling the titans by using the app to track them on a map. If users travel to those locations in the real world using GPS location data and defeat the titans, they can save the residents.
The greater the number of defeated titans, the more AR spots are unlocked, thereby extending the game. Top-performing players are awarded with virtual medals featuring their name.
At the 94-meter tall Oyama Dam, for example, which became Wall Maria in Attack on Titan, a bronze statue of the manga’s protagonist Eren and his friends Mikasa and Armin stands at its base, the trio’s eyes locked in horror at the towering structure. By lining up their point of view with the guide lines visible on the app, users can unlock comic strips and see a titan appear over the dam.
Another titan comes into view at Hita Station, when the app is pointed towards the structure displaying the letters “Hita.” Meanwhile, outside Mizube no Sato Oyama, a farmer’s market that sells Attack on Titan goods, app users can see titans come running down the river valley. At each spot in the city, conquering a titan will unlock more of the story and reward the gamer with original dialogue.
The app also offers opportunities to engage with the heroes of the story. At Sakura-daki Waterfall, which took its name from the resemblance of its splashes to cherry petals, Eren, Mikasa and Armin appear. This tranquil, leafy spot is about a 10-minute walk along a quiet trail behind JR Amagase Station, making it easily accessible.
Users are able to take pictures of the AR images on the app—or take selfies with the manga characters in the AR scenes.
Uncovering original and unique items
Hita's key part in the creation of Attack on Titan is commemorated in the exhibits, attractions, and memorabilia related to the story that can be found throughout the city.
Opened in March 2021, to mark the close of Attack on Titan’s serialization in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine (2009– 2021), the dedicated museum houses original sketches, drawings and models from the manga.
As Attack on Titan has won countless awards, been published in many languages and even been tipped to become a Hollywood live-action film, the exhibits are detailed and copious—a perfect attraction for fans.
Isayama’s award-winning record—most recently he was given a special award at the International Comics Festival in France in January, 2023—is also on display, along with his history as an artist and some of his early works.
For souvenir shopping, check out the Hita Station area, which is also home to a bronze statue of the manga’s Leader of the Special Operations Squad Levi Ackerman and more comic strip displays.
The Hita Original Crafts & Foods Shop at Hita Station sells a wide range of Attack on Titan goods, including collaborations with other famous local items such as Hita cedar. At nearby Maruhara, the specialty is Attack on Titan-themed ramune (a traditional carbonated soda), which is available in many flavors. The empty bottle reveals real-life scenes from the manga featuring the titans or the heroes when held up to the light.
With such a wealth of unique and rare souvenirs on offer, as well as the possibility of AR-supported photos via the app, fans of Attack on Titan will leave Hita with a lot more than simply memories.
JR Hita Station is one hour by highway bus from Fukuoka Airport or 75 minutes by express train from Hakata Station. For more information on the AR experience, visit https://shingeki-hita.com/ (click on the button for English).