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Authentic Japan: Understanding the Japanese Otaku Subculture

Authentic Japan: Understanding the Japanese Otaku Subculture

If you are looking for an experience vastly different from Western culture, Japan is undeniably one of the most worthwhile countries to visit. The country has a  colorful, complex and rich culture and a deeply layered history.   These two influence contribute to Japan having lots of unique traditions and phenomenon, one of which is the Otaku Subculture.

The term Otaku is gaining in worldwide familiarity. If you search on the Internet, the term otaku is usually translated as “nerd” or “geek”.  Those familiar with the term may describe Otaku as someone who has a distinct devotion to manga and anime.  The culture is much deeper than either of these definitions.

To understand what an Otaku is we must begin with the colorful world of manga and anime. Since the 1980s, the world of manga and anime has been making waves in both the local and international scenes. Manga and anime in Japan are basically the equivalents of comics and cartoons in the West.

Manga and Anime in Japan are considered a part of society and has long held a place in pop culture similar to the emerging role of super heroes in the West. It is much more celebrated as it is part of the everyday life for most adults. 

In 1983, Akio Nakamori was the first to give definition to the term in the manga – Manga Burikko. During that time, Nakamori defined an Otaku as someone who is a nerd or ‘a weird social outcast’, it became like a synonym of geekiness.

In the 1990s, the world took notice of Japanese Pop Culture and it Otaku became hip, gaining recognition worldwide as trendy need cool through the popularity of manga and anime.

Great examples of Western accessible Otaku contributions include Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Hello Kitty. Manga and anime are being celebrated and igniting imaginations for a broad range of ages all over the world.   In many popularized trends it is chic to identify and dub oneself as Otakus.   Hollywood alone has ensured that gone are the days when Otakus were outcasts.  Outcasts are in.

Still, the Otaku Subculture in Japan isn’t JUST a group of people obsessed with anime and mangas but is, in reality, a huge social phenomenon.

Lots of landmarks all over Japan are symbols of popular anime or manga characters. Many Otakus from all over the world flock to Japan to buy authentic anime and manga merchandise as a lot of stores in the country sells them because of the huge return in profits.

An example of a famous place in Japan that is on every Otaku’s bucket list is Akihabara.  Store after store after store in this famous shopping district sell Otaku related merchandise. The Otaku Subculture has become  a big contributor to Japan’s booming economy, the value of both the anime market and the manga market are increasing every year.

The impact and influence of the Otaku Subculture on the world is astonishing. More than the anime on screen and manga on paper, cosplay is also all the rage right now. It’s an avenue for Otakus to feel empowered by dressing up and being their favorite characters. Otakus can be found all over the world, it’s hard not to personally know one! This is why the Otaku Subculture is being celebrated in Japan and the rest of the world.

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