akihabara after saturday

Just after noon Saturday I was passing through Akihabara, but decided at the last minute to get off the train and take a short stroll around. I took a photo of a man outside the station and half-jokingly wrote in my previous post that he could have attacked me. At around 12:30 yesterday a mentally unstable man rammed a truck into the crowd there, got out and stabbed several people dead.

I can’t say exactly when, but in my mind at least, the place has taken on a shade of danger. Up to a decade ago “Electric Town” Akihabara was still a place where families and couples came to buy items such as refrigerators and air conditioners. You hardly see them now among the single men — not all young — and tourists that now set the mood of the area. Anime fans, idoru worshippers, figure collectors — the shoppers that come here now come to indulge private, closed fantasies — each one to his own but consoled by the presence of an army of others. Then there are the maid cafes, more mercenary and plastic than even the ‘cabaret clubs” of red-light Kabukicho, taking their money for the illusion of a 2D digital encounter.

What is remarkably about yesterday’s incident (Asahi Shimbun), was that this man narrated his death ride for the benefit of an unseen audience.

ishimaru denki

It took some courage to get near this man in Akihabara today: I thought he might swing his bottle at me. But I couldn’t resist, seeing as he had the logo for the Ishimaru Denki store written on his cheek, just like on the hapi jackets of the store’s salespeople just a few meters away.

Only after I took the photo did I realize how cruel this scene probably was. I assumed he drew the mark himself, but most likely some pranksters painted it on his face as he was passed out.

a superhero

ueno park

My, how the mighty have fallen. Yesterday, I saw this superhero putting on a show just outside Akihabara Station, despite the police dragnet that’s supposed to have driven off all street performers from the area after a case of indecent exposure. It didn’t last long obviously.

Actually I first this man over a year and a half ago. He was on stage at CLUB GOODMAN, the “live house” in Akihabara that seems to attract the city’s oddest bands. Then, he was the back dancer for a popular girl duo dressed in pink whose fans — a crowd of geeky men also in pink —  danced like Shakers on speed with plush puppets on their hands. It’s something called otagei, and our superhero was the group’s sargeant-at-arms, leading the men in their dance and keeping the peace among them (one or two guys came brandishing home-made light sabres).

Now he’s out of the street, going it alone it seems, with a routine of his own creation. A gaggle of high school boys looked on briefly, grew bored and moved on. Link