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


  1. It's still shocking, even to this day. I still wonder what was going through that person's mind to commit so violent of a crime. That pic with the pool of blood is quite graphic.

    Pretty scary that you were there only the day before the incident!

  2. I remember this event when i first heard of it after it happened. Good to know that they are warming up to re-opening it again. Maybe more activities can take place with the alotted free space for pedestrians.

  3. With increased security around Akihabara and 2Ch., I feel much more safe if I were to walk on the streets of Japan.

  4. @ radiant:
    Japan (and probably Tokyo in particular) has a high-pressure environment, so naturally there will be a lot of people under high amount of stress and other mental factors (the nation's suicide rate is pretty high afaik). However, what is more worrying is that the ways people let out the frustration in a harmful way are more apparent and materialised than many other places I know of.

    Yea the aftermath scene can be quite graphic with the blood. Maybe I should mossaic it away if there is a demand for it.

    And yes it was pretty scary indeed that I was there the day before it happened. I feel sorry for the tourists who came and witnessed the whole thing on the actual day though.

    @ Z:
    I do hope that Akihabara will gain back its livliness with the return of the weekly-designated pedestrian zone. I did hear that one of the reasons behind opening it again was for the economy in addition to bringing back the culture/tradition of the place, but I have to check on that again later.

    @ robostrike:
    I do hope that this is the case. The reputation of Akihabara has been on a decline (I think, well at least from what people have observed in recent trips). Let's hope that its future will remain bright and positive.

  5. wholy crap, seriously? that's wonderful news! hope to experience the madness again next year ^_^

  6. Woah youve been there one day before the incident?
    That must have been so creepy to know that a slight change of plan might have ended in disaster for you.

    On the other hand its a good thing to hear that theyll soon reopen them.

  7. @ meronpan:
    I didn't get to see Akihabara's Hokosha Tengoku myself before, but I do hope you'll get to do so next year!

    @ Blowfish:
    I have heard someone commenting on another blog where he has been to Akihabara on the day the incident occured. That must have been a bad day for him with the sudden awful atmosphere surrounding the place.

    I won't get to see Akihabara's Hokosha Tengoku myself this year. Perhaps I'll get a taste of it next year? I do want to witness it at least once!


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