Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dark Anniversary: Akiba Massacre +3 years

This Saturday marks the three month anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. Today marks another dark day for Japan however. Three years ago Tomohiro Kato, a disgruntled worker drove a rental truck into the crowds of Akihabara’s Pedestrian Sunday, a day the main street is closed off and turned off for traffic allowing shoppers to fill the street. Three people were killed after being hit by the truck, after stopping, Kato jumped out and begin attacking people with a dagger. Dozens were injured and another four victims were killed in the knife attack.

Japan is often plagued by these so-called toorima (通り魔) attacks, basically violent attacks on total strangers because the perpetrator is “pissed off”, but this has taken the lead as one of the worst in the countries history. Just a few weeks ago, Kato received the death penalty from the courts for his actions, and today at the scene of the attack, friends and family of the victims pay respects by leaving gifts and flowers by the side of the road. In typical Akiba fashion, the makeshift shrine holds not only flowers and paper cranes, but also canned coffee, energy drinks, and anime CDs.

Tragedies on an individual and societal level will never end. It’s part of life and we keep going on. The Pedestrian Sunday has been cancelled since the attack, but just a couple of months ago, the police and local government decided to reinstate it. You can see the busy intersection at the center of the attack now via a 24 webcam an d Akihabara is back to normal (or whatever passes for normal in this town). You cant stop all bad things from happening, but thats not really an excuse for living a morally vacant life (I’m looking at you Ayn Rand). Personally I just try to do more good than bad. I figure if we all do that the world become a pretty decent place for everyone. Why not try to do something nice for a stranger today, it could be for a victim of a natural disaster, or a refugee from a man-made disaster, or just a guy who had a really bad day at work. What could it hurt?

Street Bazaar in Downtown Tokyo

Street Bazaar in Downtown Tokyo by Steve Nagata

One of the downsides to living near Akihabara is the last of good markets and shopping streets (商店街) that make daily shopping for household needs easy. I tend to head up to Okachimachi when I need to do that kind of shopping. But one concession is the Iwamotocho/Higashi Kanda Family Bazaar held every few months. For a few consecutive weekends, a backstreet I blocked off and local and gypsy stores can set up shop right on the street. Lots of clothes, shoes, cleaning products, used computers, etc. Basically a big flea market. Not your typical Akiba style event, you see mostly housewives looking for a bargain. Still it brings a fun family style atmosphere into a normally quiet industrial area. It’s set to run all weekend just south of the Kandagawa Izumi bridge near the Showa Dori exit of Akihabara station. Worth a stop if you are a garage sale/flea market fan.