otaku – part 1

Having had a few tough weeks with our son graduating from one cold to the next, there has been a lot of unusual lifestyle patterns forming at home. Our son waking up coughing in the middle of the night has been a frequent occurrence; when the coughing has stopped he does not want to go back to sleep but instead wants me to carry him, looking at the lights of the cars on the road far away, looking at the red light blinking light from the gas station, looking at the moon shining through the clouds. When my arms start to loose their strength, and I cannot convince our son to return to bed (he gets very vocal about it as soon as we approach the bedroom), we end up on the floor in front of the TV so as not to wake up mummy.

Having acquired some experience zapping around YouTube videos, I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of videos that soothes our son and makes him forget about his discomfort. The one I will talk about here, is the unboxing-of-small-toy-cars-made-by-Tomica-videos. I am amazed to find so many videos out there showing one little box after the other being opened, the car inside being freed and then taken for a spin on the floor in front of the remaining stack of boxes in the background. The scene is the same, only the floor, the cars and the hands are different – flooring, carpet, big hand, painted nails hand, slender hand, elaborate nail art hand, showing long cars, small cars, new cars, special edition cars, cars in boxes 1-100, etc etc etc.

Who in the world is watching these videos I think to myself when seeing the number of views reaching the millions – then I look at us lying there in front of the TV, and feel a bit embarrassed by entertaining a thought like that. Our boy starts out by telling me the names of the unboxed cars; police car, blue car, long truck, garbage truck, but little by little he finds a comfortable position lying with his head on my stomach and gets silent, and eventually we make it back to our bed again.

From having had a total disinterest in everything cars (except for Formula 1, of which I am a longtime big supporter, looking forward to be sharing the races with my son in the future), I find myself slowly getting drawn into the magical world of small-toy-cars-made-by-Tomica. Looking at it from the outside I cannot understand why I see myself checking the newly released cars on Amazon, why I have started to feel pleasure by hearing the sound of the little paper box being opened on YouTube (it is actually very meditative) – have I suddenly contracted a case of toy-car-otaku I ask myself?

Otaku, オタク, is the Japanese word for geek or nerd (with somewhat negative connotations it seems), someone who is obsessed by a particular area, be it trains, planes, computer games, anime, or I guess small-toy-cars-made-by-Tomica. I have not even had the chance to tell my wife yet, but I have suddenly found myself starting my own little small-toy-cars-made-by-Tomica-collection. I try to convince myself that it it is a very cheap investment that will become a very valuable gift to our son when he grows older (so it is actually a very good use of a golden 500 yen coin in these times of rising inflation) – it is a little bit too shameful to admit that I find pleasure in just having the unopened boxes in my drawer, looking at them before hiding them again. But I am sure my son would understand me (although he would be ripping the boxes apart as soon as he could to play with the toys).

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2 thoughts on “otaku – part 1”

  1. Johanna+Jormfeldt

    This was an interesting insight in your secret life! I don’t know what is worst, hiding your otaku from your wife or hiding unopened boxes with toy cars from your son. I really look forward to part 2 of Japanese subcultures. Anything can happen 🙂

    1. Oh! Thank you for reminding me – maybe it is not a good idea to write about secrets on the Internet 😉

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