The Japanese love Cuenca, one of the provinces of Castilla-La Mancha with more and more visits every year. In 2010, 4,000 Japanese visited the city. Two years before, the City Hall published around 2,500 guides in Japanese, and since the high-speed train reached the city in December 2010, 7% of the people attended in a nearby tourist office have been Japanese. Some say that the reason for this oriental landing is “Sora no Oto”, a series of cartoons produced by Tokyo TV and Amiplez. Others believe that it is the inclusion of Cuenca in the list of UNESCO Heritage of Mankind cities in 1996.
The story of “Sora no Oto” takes place in a future marked by intense, long wars. The main character, Kanata Sorami, is a warlike 15-year old orphan who signs up for the army, and his first post is a unit of five girls protecting a fortress over a small village called Seize. And it seems that all of the architecture, structure, backgrounds and areas of Seize are based on Cuenca.
Therefore some tourists come to the city of the hanging houses armed with photocopies of their favourite places from the series, such as the Bridge of St Paul, the Castle and the Bezudo Arch, the Alarcón Castle and the different viewpoints around the city. The Japanese come to Cuenca as part of trips organised by Spain around other cities such as Toledo, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville.
Other governmental players see Cuenca’s characteristics as the true reason for the rise in Japanese visits. The fact that Cuenca is “one of the safest cities in Spain” helps the Japanese a great deal, who carefully guard their safety and are “tired of robbery”.
Just as the Japanese love Cuenca, restaurant owners in the city love the Japanese. Highly cultured, exquisitely polite and tranquil, these are ideal customers. It doesn't matter whether they come here thanks to a cartoon series, because the city is Heritage of Mankind or in search of the exquisite game paté called morteruelo.
Images: Banco de imágenes de la Fundación Turismo de Cuenca