It gained the nickname “Electric Town” shortly after World War II for being a major shopping center for household electronic goods and the post-war black market. Nowadays, Akihabara is considered by many to be an otaku cultural center and a shopping district for video games, anime, manga, and computer goods. Icons from popular anime and manga are displayed prominently on the shops in the area, and numerous maid cafés are found throughout the district.
*Akihabara. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akihabara
Interviewed by Risa Kobayashi, Emma Withrow
Photos by Masanori Tsuchibuchi
Woman from Malaysia
I like Japan because of its cleanliness and Japanese hospitality. People are polite. They are willing to help us like when we are not sure which train or subway to take. As for trains, the bullet train is super convenient compared to trains in European countries.
Japan has four seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter. In Malaysia, we have only a rainy season and summer so we really want to see snow. There’s no snow in Tokyo so we’ll go to Sapporo and enjoy skiing and snowboarding there.
Now I’m happy to see a pray room and restaurants for Muslims in Haneda Airport.
1. Do you welcome tourists, especially the Muslim ones?
2. What is your perception of tourists from abroad?
Tourists from the United States
Woman: I work for Twitter in advertising. This is my first trip to Japan. Twitter is much bigger in Japan than in America, so it’s really cool to come here.
We’re mostly meeting with a bunch of clients which is interesting to see how business is different in Japan versus America. It’s much more relationship based.
Question: What are your thoughts on American politics?
Man from Switzerland
It’s my fourth trip to Japan. I just arrived by train into Tokyo and am waiting to see if my hotel room is available. So I’m just hanging around, I know this area is pretty crazy so I thought I’d check it out.
Question: Why can’t you blow your nose in public?
Young New Zealanders
“This is our first time in Japan and this is our second day. We just sort of came to Japan with no real plan in mind, we just paid for the tickets and rail passes, and now we can just go anywhere and see what happens.”
“I saw an electronics shop, I’m an electronics technician back home, all of these little side streets have electronics stalls.”
“One of us is otaku, he was the one who wanted to go to Akihabara. I like anime, but I prefer manga. What got me into it was Cowboy Bebop back when I was really young.”
“With people who are interested in visiting Japan, Akihabara is famous. Like for me, I’m a bit of an otaku which is why I came here. Even if you’re only a little bit otaku you’re told that you’ve gotta go see Akihabara.”
“By the way, what’s up with your guys parking rules? We saw some guys out with measuring tapes putting tickets on cars, it’s really intense.”
1. How do you think the world views Japanese people?
2. What is the best thing to eat in Japan?
3. Why are there not more rubbish bins?
Aussie and American
Man: I am planning to study here starting next year. I’ll be studying medicine, I’m currently doing that in Australia at the moment but want to come here.
Woman: I live here, I’ve been here for a year. I’m an English teacher.
I want to know what the Japanese people are thinking about the 2020 Olympics. Are they excited? Are they terrified? How are they feeling about all these foreigners who are going to be in the city?
Man: I’m wondering with how people deal living in very small houses, as compared to Australian houses. It’s so culturally different to live in such a smaller area, I do like it actually, but it is different.
1. How do Japanese people feel about the upcoming 2020 Olympics?
2. How do you find living in a small apartment?
Woman from Myanmar
This is my second trip to Japan. I love being here because people are very polite and its weather is nice. Japanese culture is very similar to our culture, not so different because both Myanmar and Japan are same Asian countries.
There are a few English-speaking Japanese people. Most Asian people suffer from English, too, and we Burmese are no exception. We have just started to get a real education because our political system is changing so we are eager to learn international languages. I think we must learn.
Question: Why is there a language problem in Japan?
Woman from Germany
This is my second visit to Japan. I’m on my holidays now and traveling around the country with a rail pass. I like Tokyo and Sapporo the most because those cities are very lively. Also Okinawa is very relaxing. I like many places in Japan very much. I wish I could live here.
I like anime. My favorite one is “Fullmetal Alchemist” (鋼の錬金術師, Hagane No Renkinjutsushi). I’m not “Fujoshi” (腐女子; Readers of yaoi, a genre of male-male romance narratives) but a friend of mine loves that kind of thing lol.
Question: Why are Japanese people interested in European & German culture?
Thank you very much for your cooperation!
… Who wants to be the next questioner?
Akihabara, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tell me, Japanese people! Vol.1 (Kamakura, Kanagawa Pref)
Tell me, Japanese people! Vol.2 (Haneda Airport)
Tell me, Japanese people! Vol.3 (Japan Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square)
Tell me, Japanese people! Vol.4 (Meiji Jingu Shrine)
Tell me, Japanese people! Vol.5 (Ginza)