Akihabara, we love you.

In memory of the victims of yesterday's horrible violence in Akihabara (秋葉原), I am dedicating today's post to our beloved holy land, where the senseless attacks took place. I dedicate this post to the victims, their loved ones and to Japan in general; so that she may remain safe and secure.

Akihabara (which is usually known to us as 'Akiba') is situated in an area of Tokyo that, in the Edo period, was just outside of the Sujikai-gomon city gate leading into Edo. The area was known for the shops owned by Samurai-class craftsmen.

After a huge fire destroyed the area in 1869, a Shinto shrine was constructed on location. The shrine was named Chinka sha (鎮火社), or "fire-prevention shrine," as a symbol of the huge blaze having been extinguished. Interestingly, because of the name, large numbers of the city residents thought that the popular fire-controlling god, Akiha (秋葉) was enshrined inside of it. This misconception led to the common name of "Akihappara" for the shrine's surrounding property, which means "Akiha’s square". This is how Akiba, or Akihabara, originally got its name!

Much later on, after World War II, a marketplace grew around the electrical manufacturing school that was located in the area, which is now known as Tokyo Denki University (東京電機大学). Wireless radio goods were particularly attractive to the shoppers who visited the area.
Throughout the next few decades, technological developments in consumer goods, personal computers and telecommunications led to a massive expansion of the Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街) district. Akiba's reputation for availability of the very latest in technology was further reinforced with the modern developments in video games, mobile phones, digital cameras.

Finally, the huge rise in popularity of manga and anime that occurred toward the end of the 20th century gave birth to a new social movement. Those of us who take part in it tend to live a somewhat different lifestyle, cherishing technology of all kinds, characters from anime and manga, and moe-moe obsessions like Maid Cafes. These cultural changes firmly sealed the district's status as the Otaku promised land.

Today, we can run through the streets in a state of pure bliss, shopping for manga, figures, DVDs and the world's most cutting-edge electronics, while taking time to enjoy the amazing arcades, and otaku street performers. Ahhhh Akiba, there is no other place like it and we hope to *safely* continue feeling the joy and excitement she provides for the rest of our lives.

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1 comment:

rinko said...