On June 23 and 24, Hokkaido Japan will be hosting the Toyako Manga Anime Festa 2012 at a hot spring resort famous for being the site of the 2008 G8 summit. In honor of the occasion, and through August, the local Evergreen Taxi service will be running cars coated in colorful itasha (loosely "cars in pain") wrappers.
The head of the Sapporo Executive Itasha Committee expressed the hope that seeing otaku using the taxis in public would help to alleviate the lingering sentiment that otaku are creepy.
The cars will feature bishoujo versions of the priestess Miko Hanashiro and the Spirit of Lake Toya. If the latter sounds familiar, that may be because Hokkaido native manga artist Hideaki Sorachi used the local deity in a Gintama gag. "Lake Toya" wooden swords, like Gintama's hero's favored weapon, are in fact a popular tourist souvenir. When President Bush visited for the 2008 G8 summit, he had his customized with the words "secret service" carved into the sword.