Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Otaku etc.

When learning about Japanese culture, I do my best to try and draw parallels between social groups and cultural trends in Japan and North America.  Japanese Otaku could most likely be compared to North American nerd culture, or perhaps even the Wapanese (http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/12-types-of-otaku).  The Otaku's use of 2 channel could be easily paralleled to 4chan.  However it seems like Otaku culture is/has experienced much more flux in the realm of social acceptance and identity than that of North American nerd culture.  But what effects does the presence of Otaku culture have on the world's view of Japan?  Despite their prevalence and acceptance in Japan, the Otaku's tendecy to congregate in certain areas of the country may give the outside world a skewed view of Japanese culture as a whole.

When reading about the Akihabara, I decided to have a look at the particular area to try and visualize what I was reading about.  Upon finding pictures, I thought to myself "Hey! It's that street!".  When seeing the images I confused sections Akihabara with Shibuya Crossing.  Though my initial recognition of the street was off, my recognition of the bright lights of Japan made me ponder.  In one of the readings, it is stated that Akihabara is one of the top ten tourist attractions in Japan.  Seeing so many tourists a year, many of the visitors to the country who take a walk through Akihabara will likely imprint that street as part of Japanese culture, as its general appearance is consistent with other popular areas like Shibuya Crossing.  Will the interests and practices of the locals to Akihabara (Otaku) also be taken as a Japanese authentic and staple population?  The Akihabara is such a small portion of the country, but it is so recognized and well traveled that it, and the Otaku may have a deep impact on the world's view of Japan and the Japanese.  Canada, much like other areas of the world, tends to be seen by the world as big, geographically varied, and contain large metropolitan centers like Toronto.  Though the country has so much more to offer, is it ever really seen?  Or is a country's appearance to the world restricted to first hand accounts and general knowledge?

Credible or no, this article: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/12-types-of-otaku complies with the Otaku Talk and shows the great potential variety that members of the Otaku culture can enjoy, while still being filed under the same subculture.  The subculture seems to be less about nerd culture, and more about holding a certain amount of passion for some aspect of culture.  Being overly passionate about something that may have a slight nerdy taste to it may land you as an Otaku in the eyes of some.  To me, it seems like the word Otaku itself has lost the majority of its meaning, and is being re-appropriated for a modern age, and rightfully so.  But is it really necessary to cling to subculture terms like Otaku, when the current use of the word is so distant from the original intent?

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