Akiba

This note will sound somewhat lame at first, mostly to anyone having ever set foot in japan.
I wish to talk about technological precision and the parasite consequences it has.
More precisely, i want to draw a link between technical precision and aexual perversion.

There is, in north eastern Tokyo, a district called Akihabara, famous for several reasons.
It seems that in the past its name was Akibahara, which gives sufficient explaining of its nickname: “Akiba”.

The district became famous for its concentration in specialized shops: quantity of them opened, dedicated to selling mechanical parts, tools, electronic parts… The goal, it seems, was to concentrate the whole of the technical knowledge in a limited space. Innovation was made possible and eased by the density of the shops. Each one of them selling particular parts, some selling perhaps the same at little varying prices, the technically gifted were given a golden opportunity to put their ideas to practice.

Lately, this part of the city changes: it became the heart of the “otaku” culture. The word “otaku” derives from an expression meaning “at home”. It designates people who are fond of something and spend the vast majority of their time in their homes (litterally, “at your home”).

This word was given a special meaning recently, with the international rise of the manga culture. Manga fans, idol fans, video gamers were soon regrouped under that pejorative designation.

What seemed incredible to me, when i visited Akihabara, was the (unexpected) connexion made geographically between technicians and otakus.

When i visited the endless electronic galleries, it seemed like a heaven for computer engineers, as well as for any kind of electronics amateur.
What the westerners call “geeks” would find here material for any technical ambition, since it seemed that one who knows what to look for could find absolutely anything.

When exiting the galleries, one faces an impressing quantity of manga shops; girls disguised as manga heroins invite you to come and read the endless flow of local pop illustrated literature for a few hundred yens per hour. Huge posters displayed on the walls if the buildings and an infinity of signs indicate a common goal: blur the border between fantasy and reality. Make fans enter the world they love.

I did not look around for long, just picked a manga-toy store and got in, hoping to find the best designed toy robots i had ever seen. Many books in that one, not a lot of robots; i was disappointed but i saw a hidden section forbidden to human beings under 18. I chose to look at that “part” of the shop.

What i found was gruesome: on seven floors, a classification of the national production of videos: erotic, pornographic, voyeuristic, gerontophiliac, pedophiliac even… Unsurprisingly sadistic and masochistic, with a fairly good section devoted to woman-humiliation, heavy violence and rape-like scenes, obviously scatolphiliac and so on.

The quantity of such shops in the area is rather high, and the proximity to the manga-simulation world is less than doubtful.

Surely i was at the center point of this onanistic culture.

Since then i heard about a lot of western documentaries studying this tendency of the japanese to value individual sex more and more.

The technicality of solitary sexuality is well known to be well developed here. Incredible imitations of body parts, about five tears ago, were launched on the sex toy market, etc…

Another japanese stereotype is the “LOLICON”: lolita complex.

In order to investigate the width of this phenomenon i will have to study more precisely the history of japan, and the evolution of its typical erotic fantasies through the socially important phenomenon of westernization which can be dated. 1868, the second year of the publication of Lautréamont’s “Les Chants de Maldoror” under a feuilleton format, is also the first year of the Meiji era in Japan, which was meant to be the era of modernity. Schools suddenly started to teach western music, starting a process which was to last until today, with the intention of providing the japanese population a set of western cultural references.

I believe the structure of japanese erotic fantasy was, since then, subjected to an endless series of changes, carrying the traditional values into a world of infinite possible futures.

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