I once was, and still am, an Otaku.
I’ve lived in Japan for quarter of a century and I love how this country offers many different images when seen from a new standpoint. This country has multiple religions, agriculture, fishing, metropoles, electronics and entertainment. I was, and always will be, an Otaku who is in love with with nature, music, literature, computers, alcohol, videogames, and anime.
When I was fifteen, I took a train to visit Nipponbashi in search for the Geforce FX 5200 Graphics Card that has a standard PCI socket (to put it simply, a computer part). It was year 2005, and Amazon.com wasn’t a thing yet. I guess I had searched internet for what I wanted and saw some kind of review about Nipponbashi.
As I stepped out of metro station, there was realm of electronics and entertainment, consisting of multiple buildings which had Anime advertisements almost as big as the buildings themselves. Down below, there was local store selling ohms, crystals, transistors, circuit boards and soldering irons. Another store was selling audio cables without headphone jack, and another was selling a thousand kinds of signal transmitters and VHS players,tons of CRT displays, nails and screws.
I felt like I was in a steampunk world. Those small shops selling electronics and tools looked like a movie set. Shop owners and customers were quiet and focusing on business.
I think you can get the feel of the area with these photos.
I had almost forgotten my original purpose for going there, but I found what I actually wanted pretty quickly, since the area has not just one store that sells computer parts, but more than 10. I still remember when I asked the store clerk for assistance, it went like this - “Do you have a Geforce 5200?” and he said, “Yes, we do. AGP or PCI?” and I clearly said that I wanted a PCI one, not an AGP. By this shopping experience, I came to understand how things work in the realm of electronics.
After my successful shopping venture, I wandered around and stumbled upon a big picture of an anime character on the side of a building. It was Melon-chan, the mascot character for Melonbooks. I didn’t know who she was thte first time I went, but she was the inviter who led me to the city’s other side, the realm of entertainment. I was curious, so I walked into the store, and what I saw was an extravaganza of pop culture. That was the beginning of my love for Anime.
Recently, during a short visit to the game arcade “KINACO”, I saw the same picture of Melon-chan on the same building. What struck me was the fact that Anime and the culture behind it has kept growing throughout the past 10 years. During these 10 years, it has even expanded abroad. “Japanese Pop Culture” practically equals “Kawaii” and “Anime” these days.
So I decided to revisit. In next article, you will witness the other side of this area; the still extravaganza of pop culture.
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