otaku – part 2

The other day my son and I visited the bookstore at the nearby shoppingmall and a book on display, with a note saying recommended by staff, caught my attention. It was a book about a railroad level crossing, and without even looking inside I decided we would by it. Every time we take the bicycle to the sea, we pass a level crossing, and often we have to wait for a train or two to pass to my son’s great joy. He loves his level crossings and trains, especially the Shinkansen although he has yet to see one in real life, and I cannot wait until we will travel by Shinkansen together. So a book about a level crossing recommended by the staff – you cannot go wrong there I thought.

I feel like trains are everywhere in Japan, especially in the bigger cities there are so many train tracks and train lines that it would be a full time job as well as a full time hobby to keep track of them all. So of course there are people whose meaning in life seems to be everything train. Train tables, photographing trains, riding on them, and on and on. Many times, while living in Tokyo, when I was going on photo excursions to the mountains or nearby towns, I ended up sharing some time with train photographers; at a particularly beautiful train station, at a particularly interesting area the tracks pass through, or at at a shrine close to a particularly beautiful level crossing with an approaching train as a backdrop.

That trains are a typical otaku-area – something people can be nerding about – I have been aware of for a long time. But that level crossings also is an area of potential for otaku, I had until recently no deeper understanding about. So back to the book – my son has come to love the story about the level-crossing living its life warning about approaching trains and stopping people and cars and trucks from crossing. The level crossing seems full of life, so living that I have come to wonder recently if it is communicating with our TV or if our TV is just listening in to when we are reading the book – suddenly there started to be many YouTube-video suggestions concerning level crossings when I started the YouTube app; videos showing the life of one level crossing, videos showing one level crossing after another, cartoons of level crossings.

I hope we are not being listened to by our home appliances and that the videos are just another expression of the otaku found everywhere in Japan and so of course from time to time naturally show up among our other otaku-videos. I am actually quite excited about what the next area of otaku we will get drawn into will be. Until then, good night level crossing.

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