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Akihabara becoming increasingly weird

28 Comments

If the crime scenes that appear in Japan’s print and broadcast media seem to have a remarkable verisimilitude about them, it’s probably thanks to manufacturers’ standardization of the color and texture of the blue vinyl sheeting, which is used ubiquitously by the police to mask such scenes from the public's view.

But thanks to the diffusion of another product -- cell phone cameras -- Japanese TV viewers were given rare, unobstructed views of the prostrate bleeding victims of the slaughter on Chuo Dori avenue in Akihabara last Sunday.

Some of these amateur news gatherers could be overheard talking excitedly on their cell phones, saying, “A horrible incident’s happening right now! I’ll send you a mail.”

Shukan Bunshun’s (June 19) comment on the televising of graphic scenes of the carnage, almost in real time, is “iya na kanji” (an unpleasant sensation).

“You could see hordes of young people lined up shooting from the pedestrian bridge that gave a view to the crime scene,” relates a news reporter who had rushed to the scene. “And when I approached the street intersection, I could actually hear the (digital) shutter noises made by the cell phone cameras. I can understand that people would want to record such an incident, but I felt the lack of consideration to the victims was poor behavior on their part. It was unpleasant to the extreme.”

Akihabara, famed as the “Mecca of Geekdom,” is of course a place where visitors are invited, even encouraged, to shoot pictures of young waitresses dolled up to resemble French maids, or cute “kigurumin” females at streetside promotional events who prance in costumes resembling cartoon characters.

“The place has changed,” a local shop owner sighs. “The cosplay girls began appearing about four or five years ago. In the old days, whenever we had a ‘pedestrian paradise,’ we’d set up tables and parasols out in the street, and the place had a laid-back atmosphere. But now the area's been taken over by young people.

“What makes us so different from Shinjuku and Shibuya is the scarcity of females. Nine out of 10 people who come here are males,” the owner adds.

The area’s “maid cafes” aren’t especially new. “There were about five of them in 2002, when we opened,” a cafe operator tells Shukan Bunshun. “But now not only cafes, but other types of businesses like massage parlors, pubs, bars and so have also adopted the maid theme -- maybe over 60 of them.”

“When the maid shops first appeared, customers were satisfied just to ogle at them,” the operator continues. “But now it's not enough just to see and talk to them -- some customers behave like stalkers. Some girls, while on their way to the station, have been waylaid by men who lurk on the street waiting for them. So they won’t leave the shop by themselves, but go together in a group.

“Some of the customers go in for touching the girls or other infractions of the rules. That's not the sort of thing that ‘otaku’ (geeks) do. But these days, not even half our customers are ‘otaku’ types,” the man adds.

Akihabara’s “otaku” culture -- driven by fanatical hobbyists of video games, anime, manga, and virtual female “moe” companions -- seems to have also attracted people who come to the area to prey on “otaku,” such as through extortion. This has led to further deterioration of the “Electric Town’s” erstwhile clean and safe image. “Akiba,” Shukan Bunshun concludes, is no longer the Mecca of Geekdom, but has begun to metamorphose into something else entirely.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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I am impressed that somebody was able to put verisimilitude into a JT article.

Other than that I am not quite sure what this article wants to be. Having a keitai with a camera does not turn us into voyeurs, but it is making it a lot easier to be one.

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Is this article about (a) cell phone cameras, (b) freaky otaku, (c) maid cafes, (d) ???

I have a suggestion - when someone writes an article, have a point.

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I always want to walk along and punch people who take out their phones and take pictures of things like a celebrity or some kind of accident or whatever

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This kind of non-linear, stream-of-consciousness style writing is typical of Japanese essays. There is never a "point" (no pun intended)--just a bunch of random ideas which may or may not have something to do with each other. But I disagree that Akihabara in particular is becoming more "weird"--compared to what? Was it normal before Akiba and Yodobashi Camera were built? What has become weird(er) is Japan itself. Akihabara is no weirder than Nagatacho (sarcasm intended).

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"becoming increasingly weird" by what standard?

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The article is about how the neighborhood is changing from a place where "otaku" in the best sense of the word -- people who become really committed to one thing, in akihabara's case, electronics and computers and so on -- to a shady red light type of district like kabuki-cho. it seems pretty easy to figure out. And, the side of the station where akiba yodobashi camera could basically be on the other side of the world when compared to the akihabara of small shops, narrow passageways, and former pedestrian paradise of electric town akihabara.

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I think that this kind of change is normal, considering the fact that Akihabara gained a lot of popularity not only in Japan, but also worldwide, as the capital of electrics and the anime culture. There will always be some guys who would like to 'touch' and not only stare the 'maid' girl.

This doesnt mean that Akihabara is 'becoming increasingly weird'. Popularity is the reason behind this.

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this shoulda been written 15 years ago...too late now, akihabara has been weird for over a decade

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One generation's "weird" is another's norm.

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One generation's "weird" is another's norm.

Absolutely. And Neo-Rio wondered too: 'by what standard'? BTW, the article contains several grammatical errors.

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Perhaps it's not Akihabara that's changing, it's the "otaku" that's changing...

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I am with Antonios M.

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things change, sad but true, get over it I guess

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Not a bad article, except "verisimilitude" is misused.

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I can understand that people would want to record such an incident, but I felt the lack of consideration to the victims was poor behavior on their part.

No one has any manners, common sense or courtesy these days. It's really sad.

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In a country where there is no appreciation of true danger. Where the children are more and more narcistic, why would there be consideration when there is no empathy? When young adults go to Iraq to see a "war" and get themselves in trouble, it no surprise. Where or not Akihabara is weird, it seems pretty normal. Got to parts of Ikebukuro, Shibuya, or Shinjiku. There are Anime districts. There a famous one in Osaka but the name escapes me. Anime is popular worldwide even if it is get strange. But, that may also be a reflexsion of the times. Generally you see this during breaking points in history.

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Where the children are more and more narcistic, why would there be consideration when there is no empathy?

Exactly: complete lack of empathy and blinding narcissism.

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I agree Akihabara has changed a lot in recent years. Yodobashi has put a lot of the smaller, old school outlets out of business and it seems the anime themed places have taken over. Somethings have improved, but alot of things have gotten worse there.

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shops have changed too... too many maid cafes have opened... why cant they open elsewhere...

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eleewhm.

Tons of maid-cafes on other places too.

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what do you mean "becoming"?. It:s been weird for damn near 20 years.

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so....otaku is the 'normal' state of a human being?

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Do we now have to read news articles with a dictionary nearby. Pliz make it simple and to the point...What is verisimilitude??? giv us a brek

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the last sentence should read "is no longer" not "is longer" Also verisimilitude is hardly in common usage anywhere. Must have been a direct electronic translation and this word was spit out. Aren't news articles meant to explain ideas instead of confuse?

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What is verisimilitude??? giv us a brek

betterdays, I'm sure the JT editor wud b happy to giv u a brek, but u prbly wudn't ndrstnd it.

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Could Akihabara be an indication of what all Japan wil be like in say 20 years?

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Akihabara has changed a lot and Japan is changing, too. Unfortunately, change for the worse.

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Could Akihabara be an indication of what all Japan wil be like in say 20 years?

Ummm.... in 20 years? Have a look around you. It's happening now!

verisimilitude - the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability. It's not really misused, but definitely unnecessary!

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