Wandering the streets of Akihabara there is an “ebb in the affairs of men” evidenced by the shift of focus on digital toys to visual dolls. The advent of Otaru culture, on and in the streets and cafes of Tokyo, has created the rise of an extended emergence of avatars into Akihabra. This reaches beyond gaming, beyond fictional into the transmogrification of persons into characters.
The emergence of costume parlors selling outfits where once turntables and speakers were sold is a retail indicator of change. There are other indicators that challenge visitors to capture and post their images. My shorts and shirt are clearly no match for the dark threat painted on the corrugated back drop. The conversion of the word “animate” to a logo “animate” with the I highlighted in yellow may foreshadow both anime and intimate culture.
The regular trinkets are still pouring from cardboard boxes onto sidewalks. Personal fans, mini speakers, earbuds, neck chillers, charging cables, power converters, recycled phones, used cameras – really anything – in the personal electronics and gadget space has been relegated to minor retail stages. The grand spaces have gone to gaming and “gambling”. In a country where gambling is “illegal” the proliferation of pachinko machines and slots and shops where gaming prizes can be converted to cash proliferate (a condoned work around). The neighborhood caters to a leading edge interest in gaming and gambling.
Then this! In the middles of Akihabara a church. Not a shrine, not a temple, not a casino. Contemporary, permanent. Not a game.