Tokyo's Akihabara Allows Pedestrians on Streets Again
posted on by Egan Loo
Not-So-Daily Link of the Day: Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward has decided on Monday to allow pedestrians to walk the streets of the Akihabara shopping district again starting in the middle of July, two years after this popular tradition was suspended when a hit-and-run and stabbing spree left seven dead.
Akihabara or "Akiba" is best known for its clusters of electronics stores and otaku shops, and for decades, it would close its main throughways to vehicular traffic on Sundays and holidays. On those "Pedestrians' Paradise" (Hokōsha Tengoku) days, shoppers and visitors were allowed to walk on the streets. In the last decade, street performers such as Halko Momoi and Shoko Nakagawa began holding impromptu sessions on the streets. The street performers' presence diminished in April of 2008 after a street performer was arrested for indecent exposure and volunteers began "patrolling" the streets.
The "Pedestrians' Paradise" tradition abruptly ended when a 27-year-old man named Tomohiro Katō reportedly struck five individuals with a truck at an intersection near the main Japan Railways station of Akihabara on Sunday, June 8, 2008. He then allegedly proceeded to leave the vehicle and stab 12 people on the streets. By the following Sunday, "Pedestrians' Paradise" was put on hold until further notice.
Chiyoda Ward held a meeting on Monday with the local neighborhood association and representatives of Akihabara's "Electric Town" and other shopping areas. The ward is still discussing the days, times, and other specific details of the revived Pedestrians' Paradise tradition with the police and others. New security cameras were installed in the streets of Akihabara this past January.
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