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  • 'Akihabara', also known as 'Akihabara Electric Town' or 'Akiba', for sure,

  • is a district of Tokyo located about five minutes away from Tokyo Station. Over the

  • past 140 years Akihabara has developed into a nexus of electronic, computer, anime, games

  • and otaku culture, but if you were to travel back about 100 years in Akihabara's history,

  • you're more likely to find fruits and vegetables than anything else as Akihabara was, for several decades, a produce market.

  • Following a devastating fire in 1869, the 30,000 square meters of what would later become

  • Akihabara was cleared in an effort to prevent future fires from reaching the inner part of the city.

  • At that time, it was actually pretty common for Edo, or modern day Tokyo,

  • to completely be leveled by fire about once every 20-25 years.

  • Following the fire, the 'Chinka-sha' shrine was constructed on the cleared site and was wholeheartedly

  • embraced by the local citizens, who got it completely wrong! Many residents of Downtown Tokyo

  • completely misunderstood the shrine and thought it enshrined the most popular fire-controlling deity

  • at the time, Akiba or Akiha. They even went a step further and decided to call the land around

  • the shrine 'Akiba ga Hara' or 'Square of Akiba'. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

  • It wasn't until post-World War II however, that Akihabara began to take the form it resembles

  • today. Centered around the first school of electrical manufacturing, now the Tokyo Denki

  • University, black market vacuum tubes and radio related electronic shops began to sprout up.

  • This continued until computers and console gaming started to enter mainstream culture

  • with devices like the 'famikon' driving the sales of videogames. The subsequent Windows

  • PC boom in 1994 cemented Akihabara's reputation as a technological mecca as vendors began

  • carrying computer related products.

  • But don't think the evolution ends there! With computer sales slowing somewhat in the

  • past decade, Akihabara has shifted it's focus toward 'otaku' subculture and the transition

  • has been seamless.

  • If you were to translated the modern usage of the word 'otaku' into English, you'd probably

  • end up with 'geek' or 'nerd'. That being said, this word applies to anyone who is a fan of

  • a particular theme, hobby, topic or form of entertainment. While there are connotations

  • of social awkwardness and a somewhat obsessive nature, the word has started to be reclaimed

  • by the 'otaku' population as a positive descriptor.

  • The word 'otaku' as it's used in Japanese subculture comes from the Japanese word of

  • the same pronunciation that is the honorific term for a person's house but is used metaphorically

  • as a second-person pronoun meaning 'you'. Although there is a bit of dispute regarding

  • the origin of the word, most attribute it Akio Nakamori's series titled 'An Investigation

  • of Otaku' printed in the lolicon magazing Manga Burikko in 1983.

  • The terms was used to describe fans who inappropriately used the word 'otaku' well past

  • the point in their relationship in which they would have been OK to use a more casual word.

  • The word continued to gain popularity but was catapulted into the mainstream with the

  • murder trial of Tsutomu Miyazaki who was branded 'The Otaku Murderer' after being convicted

  • in a series of gruesome deaths. While this notorious murderer cast the title in a negative

  • light, as enthusiasts around the world have begun to embrace the word, 'otaku' has become

  • somewhat more positively received in recent years.

  • Whether you're into anime, manga, video games, computers, trains, characters, maid cafes,

  • music idols, cooking, insects, pop stars, etc... it's probably safe to call yourself

  • an 'otaku'. Wear your badge of 'otakuness' with pride!

  • Thanks for watching this episode of The Japan Show, if you have any questions or suggestions

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'Akihabara', also known as 'Akihabara Electric Town' or 'Akiba', for sure,


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秋葉原とオタク文化 (Akihabara and Otaku Culture)

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    阿多賓 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日