I know that for many of you will want to make a dash for Akihabara as soon as you arrive in Tokyo. But when you do, please be careful as our otaku heaven is becoming a dangerous place...
"Otakugari" (オタク狩り(おたくがり)) means "Otaku Hunting" and is something thats been around for a while. Its common knowledge that otaku carry around quite a bit of cash and are a prime target for muggers. Japan is strangely still a country where the credit card adoption rate is low. Everybody seems to carry around wads of cash and stash it at home. Some bloke had over 100,000,000 yen stolen from him which he kept in his house!
There are news reports that many people are starting to carry knifes around Akiba. The knife carrier claims its for protection but it could be that they are hunters. This is the reason why there are now random spot checks in place by the police. One of my friends was stopped once and had his belongings going through (no he wasn't a gaijin ^^;)
I found an interview with an Otaku Hunter who speaks about the reasons why he does it, who he targets and where he targets them.
The interview can be found here and some highlights of the interview translated below.
Q: How much can you get in one catch?
A: From about 3,000 yen to 30,000 yen. The most I have got in one catch was 130,000 yen. That was last year though.
Q: Who do you aim for?
A: The ones who seem to be wandering around - the weak ones. I dont go for the ones who have dyed their hair brown or have a good build.
Q: And why is that?
A: Its not as if I'm scared of them. Just want to be able to get my money easily without hassle.
Q: Why do you hunt otaku?
A: Its easier to steal money from otaku than my dad or others on the street. Besides, otaku have loads of money.
Q: Dont you feel guilty?
A: Not an ounce (laughs). I sometimes feel bad when stealing money from my dad though. Otaku are dirty and smelly. They should be exterminated. Its just like Dragon Quest where you beat the monster and take the gold.
Q: Why do you hate otaku that much?
A: No reason. Well they are like cockroaches. They have the same smell.
Q: Have you had victims retaliate?
A: Not once. Thats why I cant stop doing it.
Q: Dont you think about what happens when you are arrested?
A: No. I'll leave it to then to think about it. I try hard not to get caught you know.
The hunter waits for his prey outside Messe Sano (doujin shop) and places like Sofmap (eroge). He usually tries to get them before they go in - before they spend their cash. What he then does is put his arm around their shoulder and drag then into a side alley. The arm-around-shoulder is supposed to make them look like friends. He then says "can you lend me some money?" where upon his victim hands over the cash...
The photos at the end of the interview are of alley ways that Akiba otaku should be familiar with - this is where much of the otaku hunting takes place.
While the crime rate is low in Japan, we do get our share of crime - like these cases of otaku hunting and people putting ice cream in a post box (which made the 6PM news slot).
The photo in this post is taken on the first floor of Gamers just outside Akiba station filled with otaku goodies such as Moe, Bishojo and Ero anime/games/figures (8 floors of it) - I love this shop!