Akiba & Otaku

Japanese

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Timeline

● 1980’s:Accompanying the spread of the personal computer in household, major computer gaming chain stores appeared on the market.

● 1990’s:With the household chain stores appearing throughout the suburban outskirts of Tokyo, the sale of consumer durables at Akihabara was greatly reduced.

● 1994 年:The sale of computer goods increased.

● 2000 年:With name-brand computer sales in decline, otaku shops have arisen in their place.

● 2008 年:The Akihabara massacre took place on pedestrian-zoned Chūōdōri street.

Linkography

From “The 4th Generation of Otaku” (IT Media, 03/19/08):

As the number of “light” otaku increases, one can feel the spread of otaku culture.  Terao was surprised when asked a question “What is Haruhi?” by a non-otaku acquaintance.  At his telecommunication school, he often hears students talking about Niko Niko Animation.

A car maniac and an anime maniac are both otaku.  Whether you buy a CD from the Tower Records or from Animeito, you still buy a CD.  It is just a difference between a major and a minor.  Due to the Akiba Boom, there is a widespread understanding that anyone is otaku.

“I’m alone, but not lonely” (Grassmuck, Volker)

● A German sociologist, Volker Grassmuck discusses about the colonization of information and media world by Otaku group.

“Meet the Geek Elite” (Wired Magazine, July 2006)

● Wired Magazine interviews Koota Umeda, a salaryman and a self-confessed otaku

Population Crisis

日本語

According to June 1, 2009 estimates, Japan’s population is currently 127 million people. However, research shows that this number will decline to less than 100 million people by 2050. This sharp decline in population comes from the combination of low birthrates, high life-expectancies, late marriages, and other social problems.

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Timeline: Population Crisis

  • 1 October 2007: Population of Japan reaches 127,771,000
  • 2008: Population begins to decline
  • Average age to marry for male and female respectively is 30.2 and 28.5
  • Average life expectancy for male and female respectively is 79.29 and 86.05
  • ~2050: Population of Japan is projected to be 95,152,000 (the same population level as 1960s)

Linkography: Population Crisis

日系ブラジル人の子供達

    “With over 1.5 million, Brazilians make up the second largest non-Japanese decent population residing in Japan. Brazilians thought of Japanese people as “honest”, “diligent”, and “sincere” in their daily lives. The parents hoped that their new lives in Japan would bring some hope into their children’s dreams. However, with the economic downturn those dreams will go unrealized as they are forced to leave the country.

    By 2050, the Japanese population is estimated to shrink to 80 milllion.”

日本の将来推計人口

    Population Projection for Japan

最新日本人口情報

    Up-to-date stastitics of Japan’s population

日本の人口

    Statistics of the world population and Japan population

Fashion

Japanese

I am researching the Japanese subculture fashion, Including punk fashion, lolita fashion, banc fashion and costume play.  My goal is to find out how these elements are related to Japanese society and culture.

Japanese subcultures became a notable phenomenon in the post-war and early post-modern era. Though the styles have changed over the years, Street fashion and costume play is still prominent in major cities like Tokyo and Ahkihabara. This phenomenon is highly related to elements of otaku culture, Janapese manga, and animations.

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Timeline

  • 1970s:When famous labels including Pink House, Milk and Angelic pretty began selling clothes that would be considered “lolita” by today’s standards
  • 1978: Cosplay at fan events likely originated in Japan
  • 1990s: Lolita fashion became better recognized, with bands like Malice Mizer and other Visual Kei (or visual type) bands coming into popularity
  • 1997: The rise and fall of many of these trends has been chronicled by Shoichi Aoki since 1997 in the fashion magazine FRUITS, which is a notable magazine for the promotion of street fashion in Japan
  • 1998: Tokyo’s Akihabara district has contained a large number of cosplay cafes, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans
  • 2001:One magazine in particular, the seasonally published Gothic & Lolita Bible, has palyed an instrumental role in promoting and standardizing the style

Linkography

[「Punk Fashion Style」、Wapedia]

Punk fashion emphasizes violent and treacherous images. Ripped off jeans and shirts are the common outfit along with the accessories such as chain and necklace. Furthermore in the case of female, corset, mini skirt and slave related items are widely used in punk fashion. In addition, people often dye their hair to bright colors to express there feelings.

After the revival, skull became the motive. Historically, skull symbolizes “momento mori” meaning “you must die”. However, in punk fashion, skull often symbolize anti-war than death.

In Japan, it seems like there is a confusion between rock and punk fashion. People often automatically assume that rock fashion is same as punk fashion. Therefore, in Japan, not a lot of people have seen true punk fashion.

“Alternative goth subcultural fringe and other fashion” (the alternative fashion blog, 6/4/08)

  • Japanese Subcultures and Fashion
  • 日本のサブカルチャーとファション

“10 Unusual Japanese Fashions and Subcultures” (Listverse, 4/20/09)

  • fashion list
  • ファションリスト

“カテゴリー ファッションの傾向を表す言葉 のページ (wapedia)

  • fashion list
  • ファションリスト

Entry contributed by Won Jun

Kanehara Hitomi

English

金原ひとみは作家で、バブル景気崩壊以降世代について本を書いています。大体、金原が扇情的でショッキングな話題について書いています。それなのに、日本人がショックを受けませんでした。たぶん、1990年代から日本人はショックを受けにくくなったのでしょう。それでも、金原はバブル以降に大人びたので、バブル以降の日本人の生活や欲求や夢などの特殊な見方を持っていると思います。この世代を理解できれば、日本の未来も理解できます。

自分も金原と同じ世代なので、日本人の若者の生活のことを勉強したいです。2009年の夏に、「蛇にピアス」と「オートフィクション」に基づく、いろいろな話題を研究しました。今学期、バブル以降の世代と日本社会の関係を研究します。

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年表:金原ひとみ

  • 1983年 (昭和58年) 東京に生まれる
  • 1990年 (平成2年)  日本のバブル景気が崩壊した
  • 1995年 (平成7年)  オウム真理教の地下鉄サリン事件
  • 1996年 (平成8年)  村上龍が新たなショック仕方は必要と言った
  • 2003年 (平成15年) 「蛇にピアス」で第27回すばる文学賞を受賞。同作で第130回芥川賞を受賞
  • 2005年 (平成17年) 「蛇にピアス」が英語で刊行した
  • 2006年 (平成18年) 「オートーフィクション」という第四目の作品は日本語で刊行した
  • 2007年 (平成19年) 「オートーフィクション」が英語で刊行した
  • 外部リンク

    “People of Today: Kanehara Hitomi” インタビューの抜粋

      「結局、怖じ気づいちゃって(スプリットタンを)できなかったけれど、自分自身も含め、身体改造に興味を持つ人間の心理を分析したくて、これを書いたのかもしれません」

      小説の中で彼女はルイにこう言わせている。〈陽が差さない場所がこの世にないのなら自分自身を影にしてしまう方法はないか〉

      「ほ んの些細なことがきっかけで、もうこんな世界にいたくない、明るいものの届かない影になってしまいたいと思う時があるんです。だからといって、暗く目立た ない存在になるのは、あまりに悲しいし、そんな人間で終わりたくない。その点、身体改造で武装すれば、存在感を放つ影になれる。見た目で判断する世の中 を、“近づくな”とシャットアウトできる。もう一つ、身体改造に惹かれる人の中には、自分の身体を使って“私はこれだけできる”ってことを証明したいとい う気持ちもあるような気がします」

    “People of Today: Kanehara Hitomi” (Subaru Prize for Literature, 2003)

      Subaru interview with Kanehara Hitomi about “Snakes and Earrings”
      「蛇にピアス」についてすばる文学賞と金原ひとみのインタビュー

    “Kanehara Hitomi Special Interview” (Shueisha, 2004)

      Shueisha interview with Kanehara Hitomi about “Ash Baby”
      「アッシュベイビー」について集英社と金原ひとみのインタビュー

    Customer Reviews (Amazon.jp)

      Reader reviews of “Snakes and Earrings”
      「蛇にピアス」の読者のレビュー


    Entry contributed by Pam Kennedy

    Kanehara Hitomi

    Japanese

    Kanehara Hitomi is the author of books about post-bubble generation youth. She writes about topics that are often considered shocking or sensational, including violence, body modification, sexual deviance, abortion, and dysfunctional relationships. Yet because Japanese society as a whole has experienced many shocks since World War II, and especially in the post-bubble era, the violent content of Kanehara’s books does not shock the Japanese people in general. However, as Kanehara herself is one of the post-bubble generation Japanese, she has a unique perspective on the lifestyles, needs, and dreams of youth who came of age in the recession. I believe that understanding this post-bubble generation is crucial to understanding Japan’s future.

    Since I am from the same generation as Kanehara, I want to study the lifestyles of Japanese youth. In the summer of 2009, I researched some of the topics Kanehara addresses in her books Hebi ni piasu and Ootofikushon. This semester, I will research the post-bubble generation’s relationship with Japanese society with Kanehara’s works.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIoXwER0ViU

    Timeline

  • 1983: Born in Tokyo
  • 1990: The Japanese economic bubble collapsed
  • 1995: The Aum Shinrikyo subway sarin gas incident
  • 1996: Murakami Ryuu says a new method of shocking is necessary
  • 2003: Snakes and Earrings won the 27th Subaru Literary Award. The same novel won the 130th Akutagawa Prize.
  • 2005: Snakes and Earrings is published in English
  • 2006: Autofiction, her fourth novel, is published in Japanese
  • 2007: Autofiction is published in English
  • Linkography

    “People of Today: Kanehara Hitomi” Interview Excerpt

      “In the end, I lost my nerve and couldn’t do [a split tongue], but I guess I wrote this book to express myself, and because I wanted to analyze the mentality of people who are interested in body modification.”
      In the novel she has Lui speak in this way. “If there isn’t a place in this world where the sun doesn’t shine, there will be a way for me to become a shadow.”
      “The impetus was just a trivial thing; I already don’t want to be in such a world, and there are times when I think I want to become a shadow that bright things can’t reach. Nevertheless, turning to a dark, inconspicuous existence is too sorrowful, and I don’t want to end as that sort of person. With that point, if I’m armed with body modification, I can get used to the shadow that frees my presence. I can become a shutout who says ‘don’t approach me’ to the society that judges by appearance. Also, among the people who are attracted by body modification, I feel that they have a similar feeling, that they want to verify that ‘I can be only this,’ by modifying their bodies.”

    “People of Today: Kanehara Hitomi” (Subaru Prize for Literature, 2003)

      Subaru interview with Kanehara Hitomi about “Snakes and Earrings”
      「蛇にピアス」についてすばる文学賞と金原ひとみのインタビュー

    “Kanehara Hitomi Special Interview” (Shueisha, 2004)

      Shueisha interview with Kanehara Hitomi about “Ash Baby”
      「アッシュベイビー」について集英社と金原ひとみのインタビュー

    Customer Reviews (Amazon.jp)

      Reader reviews of “Snakes and Earrings”
      「蛇にピアス」の読者のレビュー


    Entry contributed by Pam Kennedy

    Youth Shut-Ins

    Japanese


    Shut-ins are a relatively new phenomenon in Japan and occur mostly in men. Shut-ins are often depressed young men who drop out from school and instead shut themselves in their room. They are often characterized as being anti-social, favoring internet interactions, having interests such as anime, manga, and computer games. These people have often been the victims of bullying, and because of the intense pressures to conform, some adolescents find it unbearable to continue being part of society. Instead, they decide to stay in their homes.

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    External Link

    From: An Investigation about School Refusal and School dropout in Senior High Schools by Yougo Teachers

    Summery: Cases of high school truancy and high school dropouts becoming shut-ins are expected to rise. This study tries to better understand the condition of truancy and of high school students that leave mid-term. In 2004,17,211 high school students were studied, with the help of special education teachers, concerning the number of students that are either absent for long periods of time (“absentee students”), refuse to go to school, frequently go to the nurse’s office (for non-medical needs), or completely drop out. The results show that 1.1% of students are absentee students, and are found to be most common in sophomores. Truant students make up 1.2% of the student population, with most of those students, 50.5% of them, in the same grade. The numbers of students that spend an inordinate amount of time at the school nurse’s office make up 0.2% of the student body, and their numbers were roughly the same in each grade. Student dropouts make up 1.2% and were most common during sophomore year.

    Within this group of students – absentees, truants, and dropouts – some can be considered “shut-ins”. Truants as well as the dropouts’ 1.2% can be appropriately assumed to be “shut-ins.” Due to the high number of sophomores that are absentee students, truants, and dropouts, and, considering the length of time some students have been truant, the official number of dropouts will likely increase, as well as the number of dropouts becoming “shut-ins” to increase.

    Linkography

    “Hikikomori” Among Young Adults in Japan

    • A study describing the difference between traditional Hikikomori, those with mental disorders, and Hikikomori with High-functioning Pervasive Developmental Disorders (HPDD).

    Hikikomori: Investigations into the phenomenon of acute social withdrawal in contemporary
    Japan

    • A study done by the University of Hawai’i Manoa that investigates the origin of hikikomori and addresses how to define the condition of hikikomori.

    About Shut-Ins

    • Talks about what “shut-ins” are and chronicles the lives of various people living as shut-ins.

    Contributor Bio

    Japan: Rose

    Post Bubble Culture

    When one thinks of Japan, beyond the more traditional aspects of the culture, the Japanese fervent passion for baseball often comes to mind.  Whether you’re an avid sports fan or a casual follower, you’ve probably heard that the Japanese love, ironically enough, “America’s pastime.”  But it’s become more than just a pastime to the Japanese:  baseball is now.  It was then, and, for the forseeable future, will be.  It’s a constant in the lives of the Japanese:  for the first 70 years of Japanese professional baseball, when a game was scheduled, it was played.  But then came 2004, and all of that changed.

    Times were tough in the economy following the collapse of the Bubble Economy in the early 1990s.  The lost decade (失われた10年) lasted until 2003, even taking its toll on professional baseball.  It claimed its first victim a year later, after the 2004 season, an entire team, the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, had to be bought out by a team based just down the road in Kobe, the Orix BlueWave, merging the two together into the Orix Buffaloes, upsetting the traditional balance of teams in Japan’s two leagues (the Pacific was reduced to 5, while the Central stayed at 6).  There was not enough time for negotiations, however, and the players did the unthinkable, they struck for the first time in league history.  There would be no baseball in Japan on September 18 and 19th of 2004, marking a very dark two day period in Japanese baseball history.  Teams changed owners all the time; the fans knew this.  But the strike made fans, especially those Kintetsu fans, realize that nothing is untouchable during an economic recession, not even a game.

    Post Bubble Culture

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    Japan’s Post-Bubble culture is characterized by an inherent confusion within society.  There is an apparent gender gap between pre-war and post-war Japanese, and thus there is a widespread misunderstanding not only internationally, but nationally as well as to what constitutes “Japanese” culture.

    Immediately following World War II, Japan was literally bombarded with ideas of culture, government, and society from the west while trying to maintain their own Japanese ideals and values that had been the cornerstone of society since the beginning of time.  This led to chaos and confusion among Japanese citizens and thus the only aspect of their lives that they could count on to lead to positive success in their lives was business and prosperity.  The Japanese economy responded in kind and experienced a rapid growth spike unlike anything ever seen on the international scale.  Japan thus became one of the most competent competitors in the international market… until the collapse of the economy in 1990.  a.k.a. the burst bubble.  People who had been focused on business and prosperity alone found themselves desolate and searching for meaning.  Many turned to religious cults and other forms of spiritual inspiration to pull themselves out of this conglomerate societal and cultural depression.

    Some Japanese, however, decided to turn back the clock and focus on the more “traditional” aspects of Japanese society, but decided to incorporate them into modern society.  Takeda Souun, acclaimed calligrapher, has done just that by drawing Japan’s younger generation into the spirituality of expressing oneself through the art of shodo, or Japanese calligraphy.  He often does performance art with thousands of people watching because he firmly believes that the method and movements behind the art are just as important as the art itself.  In regards to post bubble culture, I have chosen this animation of Takeda’s work that depicts the character “seed.”  By using this image, I believe that Japan as a whole has begun to look towards to and recognize the values that are inherently “Japanese.”  They are thus planting the seeds of traditions and ideals of the past to grow into the future, and that is what makes up this Post-Bubble culture.