30 May 2010
Hokosha Tengoku returning to Akihabara
Akihabara as seen in 2007, image from Wikipedia
It has been announced that the weekly-designated pedestrian zone will return to Akihabara in mid-July this year; a little more than 2 years after a notorious mass murder caused it to cease existing.
Image from zone otaku
The mass murder, often known as Akihabara massacre, occured on 8th June 2008. 7 were killed and 10 more were wounded in this incident, causing a wide shock to the whole nation itself as well as the international community.
The attack occurred on a Sunday, when the main road Chūō-dōri was open for pedestrians only. The perpetrator took this oppurtunity to carry out his attack by ramping a rented truck into the crowd before he got out of the truck and stabbed the victims with his knife. Because of the way the attack was carried out, the pedestrian zone was removed from Akihabara from then onwards.
The designated pedestrian zones are known as Hokosha Tengoku (歩行者天国, literally "pedestrians' heaven"). On designated days major roads of some places are closed to cars, so pedestrians are allowed to walk on them freely. Akihabara's Chūō-dōri road was one of them, and apparently the days of it with Hokosha Tengoku could be quite lively, with street performers and cosplayers populating the area.
I remember that I was in Akihabara on the day just before the attack happened. When I was in Yokohama on the next day and saw the breaking news I was frankly little shocked (especially when one has just been there not very long ago and everything seem normal back then). My father back home saw the news too and phoned me, my motehr, and my sister in Japan to make sure we were all well. One can imagine how it was quite a shock globally.
From a trip post of mine posted some time ago
Hearing about the return of Hokosha Tengoku reminds me of seeing an itachari from my trip to Tokyo last year. There was a small ema (絵馬, wooden plaque) below the seat of it wishing for the return of the pedestrian zone to Akihabara. Quite a small yet a touching moment when I saw it (in my humble opinion). Well, at least that person's wish has come true here finally.
No exact dates are confirmed for the return of the pedestrian zone, but hopefully this will be a return of the good (?) old days of Akihabara. I heard the place has been on a decline for in the reecnt years, with shops closing down here and there as well as prices going up. I will be going to Tokyo again some time next month, but I won't be able to witness the Hokosha Tengoku myself. Nevertheless I do hope to see this place to be livlier than I hear here and there.
Source from ANN