How Many Kinds of Otaku in Japan Do You Know?
One thing I’ve always been impressed with is the capacity of the Japanese to become obsessive about things, which likely is due to the country’s enviable peace and stability. There are enthusiasts and aficionados (or “otaku” if you prefer that term) for just about everything you can think of, from anime and manga and cosplay to R/C cars and airplanes to females who obsess about Japanese history (called rekijo). Do you like unique traffic signals? There’s an established fandom for that. How about kofun, the ancient burial mounds that dot Japan’s countryside? Yep, there are kofun otaku as well. Yes, there are many kinds of otaku in Japan.
One of the biggest categories of otaku in Japan are “train otaku” (though tetsudou mania is a more polite term), fans who really obsess about trains, and I see them quite often, setting up expensive cameras or sound recording equipment at train crossings to catch some rare train or another. All Wikipedia entries related to trains or train stations are ridiculously long and detailed, as they’re edited by fans with an extremely high amount of passion for the subject. There are many specific types of train otaku, including nori-tetsu (people who like riding exotic trains), ori-tetsu (those who like getting off at different stops and exploring), mokei-tetsu (fans of model trains), and my own favorite, ekiben-tetsu, connoisseurs of train station bento. Next month will be a big one for railfans in our prefecture as the famous 107系 train series is being phased out after 29 years of service.
(If you want to get a sense of train anime and fanservice at the same time, I recommend Rail Wars!)
It’s interesting to observe the way technology affects human interactions. My wife is and extremely “analog” person, refusing to embrace most aspects of our modern technological world in favor of older, simpler gadgets. Instead of a smartphone she carries around an old-style flip phone from 2009, and says things like, “I’m glad we had our children 20 years ago. If we had small children today, I’d have to learn how to use [popular mobile chat platform] Line because all the other mothers would be using it. If I didn’t keep up with the other mothers on Line, it would be bad for our kids.” Netsuzou Trap is an anime about some of the pressures young people feel in school (and yuri), and in the latest episode there’s a scene where some girls are sharing Line IDs, with one saying “shall we make a Line group, so we can all chat together?” This scene made me react sadly, because I could imagine how some students would feel left out if classmates around them formed a Line group but they weren’t invited. I love the way the Internet allows people to form friendships with like-minded people all over the world, an extremely positive thing. If there aren’t any Touhou fans in your high school? Well find some on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or Discord, problem solved. Can’t find IRL friends who share the same esoteric tastes? Find some cool kids to hang with at an anime convention. Anime is such a great place!
In addition to the dozens of new doujinshi comics we’ve been adding to the site during our 5x Points promotion through the end of the month, we’ve also been stocking great doujin music CDs by the top groups making officially approved Touhou, KanColle and other music.