On 5/16, I joined TokyoBarCamp.

The first BarCamp in Tokyo[ja] was back in February 2007, so it has been a long time...!

There were 92 participants, there were 3 separate rooms and each session was 15 minutes, and the sessions went on from 10:30 in the morning to 21:00 at night so everyone had plenty occasions to hold sessions- some even made 3 sessions. Some were speeches, some just wrote topics they were interested in, and made the session into a discussion period among the participants.

Barcamp Tokyo

I really loved the variety of people and contents we had at this barcamp.

This is a session by Mitch Altman who happened to be visiting Japan this week, and he talked about the Hacker Space all around the world.

Hacker's Space

It was interesting watching people's behavior after the session.
Apparently, while listening to his session, many people thought we should have a hacker space here in Tokyo too, and so what happened was that:

-Saturday morning during the session, one of the audience went on and got the domain tokyohackerspace.com
-Saturday afternoon, another from the audience planned a session to plan creating a hacker space in Tokyo.
-Saturday night, Tokyohackerspace.com was made into a wiki.
-Sunday (I think?) tokyohackerspaces.com was registered to the worldwide list of hacker spaces at
hacerspaces.org (although the space doesn't exist yet!)
-Monday a visit to the existing hacker space in Tokyo was planned
-Tuesday is the actual visit.

This is a shot from "Africa and the web" session where I was able to learn a lot about African websites.

Africa and the web session

This is a new and very important website "Barrier Free Map"

Barrierfree map

This is a shot from "Japanese sake" session (we weren't able to drink sake...haha)


"Building Communities Using Photography" session.


There were sessions about US Airforce Research Lab, physical computing such as Chumby Hacking session and Arduino session, blogs, social media, lifelogging, Open Solaris session etc... the variety of the sessions were so broad and interesting.

The venue was wonderful- we were able to use the beautiful office of Sun Microsystems (thank you SUN, and making this happen- Jim and Shoji!)

Sun office

And you can see folks relaxing on the floor- BarCamp style :D

Dinner time!

Personally, I was not planning to do speeches as my PC was broken, but my friend Nob offered he would let me use his PC for the presentation, so I did a presentation on Japanese geek culture (the one I did at ETech) . (Thank you Nob!!)

BTW, the title that I was given for ETech was "Japanese Tech Culture: Demystifying 'Weird' Japanese Toys and Tools", but to me, this is not weird but it's rather "interesting" so I changed the title to "Japanese Interesting Geek Culture" for the session :)

This is my slides:

Videos I showed in the presentations can be seen here:
Hatsune Miku "Melt"
-user generated music(full version)
3D Miku video
-user generated 3D anime video(full version)
MikuMiku Dance
-user generated 3D animation rendering software and model(full version)
Excel animation
-user generated animation video using Excel spreadsheet(full version)
-user generated animation video that shows imaginary musical instrument(full version)
AR Innocence
-user generated Augmented Reality musical instrument(full version)
AR UmaUma
-user generated AR dance video(full version)
-AR figure which is a commercial product(full version)
-a video of a cosplay/music/dance event

Here is the video of my presentation:

Weird Japanese Toys & Tools from YIS IT Department on Vimeo.

Then, I went to watch the Entrepreneurship session organized by Kristopher which he invited Nob and me to be on the panel so that became my second session. -I guess this is BarCamp style as well :P

Kristopher Tate

Many thanks to Matthew and all the organizers and volunteers at the event, Sun Microsystems for letting us use their office, all of the sponsors including the food sponsors for all the delicious meals, and all the participants. It was absolutely a fabulous day!

Opera donuts :)

Last but not least:
This was the best PC I found at TokyoBarCamp :)



Self Intro (FEW May Panel on Emerging Technology)

This Thursday, I was invited to speak at an event called FEW (For Empowering Women in Japan) under the topic Emerging Technologies on a panel with Kristopher Tate and Michael Sheetal.

This is my slides that I intended to use for my self Introduction on my backgrounds and what I'm interested in right now. Unfortunately I had some PC problems and was unable to show the images and I basically just talked, so I've uploaded my slides here in case anyone is interested.

The discussions at FEW were great- it was my first time to speak in front of women audience only, members at FEW were very friendly people and very curious as well. We had lots of good questions and interesting conversation.

Thanks to Lauren and FEW for inviting me to speak, and everyone who came to the event :)


Women in the Japanese web industry

This Wednesday, I was invited to speak at an event called Tokyo 2.0 under the topic "Women in the Japanese web industry".(This is an article about Tokyo2.0 in Japan Times.)

We had Satoko Yamaguchi,the chair of Mozilla Japan, Motoko Imada from Mediagene, and Ayako Nakamura and David Shack from Six Apart presenting as well.

This is my slides:

The steering committee of Tokyo2.0 requested me to answer the following 3 questions from my work experience (which ranges from large company with 190,000 employee -NTT- to small startup with 3 employees -Technorati Japan when we started -).

1) Why there are less women than men in the web industry?
2) What are the opportunities?
3) What are some cool examples of successful women in the web industry and what can we learn?

Basically I think the web industry has interesting jobs and opportunities for the women, but just like other industry there are glass ceilings in certain companies.

I introduced 2 successful women in the web industry.

One is Tomoko Namba, who founded DeNA and made it public. (She has the background of working for McKinsey and becoming the partner after getting MBA at Harvard Business School). She always emphasizes that you should pursue what you want to do- life was not easy for her actually, her father had a strong policy that women shouldn't be studying, and prohibited her from doing homeworks at home, he told Namba-san to come back home at 18:00 when she was a highschool student and if she doesn't come back by 19:00 he'd call the principal of the highschool, if she doesn't come back by 20:00 he'd call the police. From that environment, she struggled out to pursue the life she wanted to lead- went to university in Tokyo, started to work at McKinsey and became the partner before founding DeNA.

The other is Risa Aihara. She worked for NTT, Recruit and founded her own company AI-land. I think she is the person who really maximized the value of herself being a women. Around 10 years ago she started a women-only mailing list called "LIFE" which we talked about online shopping and Electronic Commerce. It had the real voice of the users who are actually buying online, and talking about good EC sites and recommending them to the fellow members, talking about bad EC sites and what they want to be fixed etc. It was full of treasure for men who were unable to see what was was really wanted in the online shops from the users' perspective, and we ended up publishing 2 books from the logs of the mailing list. She went on to create websites that collected women's voices such as a gourmet site[ja] that collects women's opinion on restaurants, and Hon-cafe which has women's voices on books. She then started creating websites that are targeted for different segments of women such as Otoriyose.net[ja] which helps women to gather information about getting gourmet deliveries, Recipe Blog[ja] with recipe, Asajikan.jp[ja] a website focused on morning, Kosodate Style[ja] which is focused on mothers raising the children. I think we can learn from her that women and their "tastes" and "preferences" itself can be a great value.

I hope there will be more women coming in the Japanese web industry!

You can see the video of my talk recorded here:

Many thanks to Andrew, Rob and the steering committee of Tokyo2.0 for inviting me to speak, Mitcho for his amazing summary of my speech, and everyone who came to the event :)


APIs in Japanese web industry

Japanese web industry is said to be like Galápagos island - closed inside the isolated market and develops in a unique way. There are various reasons for this- for example the language barrier, cultural aspect, etc.

However, there were many companies trying to open up (whether or not those facts are known outside of Japan...), and events such as "Mashup Award[ja]" had helped to promote various companies' APIs to the developers, and let them create services and websites using those APIs. There were 4 rounds of Mashup Award contests in the past, you can see the full list of APIs provided for the event here[ja]. For the contest that was held last year, 132 APIs from 44 companies were available to use- including various search APIs, map APIs, etc. You can see the winners of the last contest here[ja].

Recently, there were 2 major players joining this "opening" tendency.


mixi[ja] is the largest social network service in Japan with 16million users, was invitation only-service for a long time, and was basically a closed community, a closed service without any APIs.

Mixi created "mixi Platform" which consists of Mixi Appli, Mixi Connect (OAuth) and Mixi OpenID. 

**Mixi Platform**

a)Mixi Appli 

-Allows the developers to develop applications on mixi, based on Open Social.
-Turned to open beta (from closed beta) last month, and is planed to launch officially in August.
-There are5 APIs:
  1. Person & Friends API (social graph, profile info)
  2. Community API (community info)
  3. Activities API (Mymixi (friend) info)
  4. Persistence API (data persistency)
  5. gadgets. io API (collaboration with other Web services)
b)Mixi Connect 

-Allows services, applications and devices other than mixi to access data of mixi via API using OAuth.

c)Mixi OpenID 

-Allows 3rd party websites to use user data of mixi for login authentication.

Using Mixi Appli, developers will be able to make revenue through

1)Ad revenue

-0.01yen/PV from application via mixi's ad program. Developers can include individual ads in the application page if they don't want to join mixi's ad program.

2)charge users via mixi using mixi's charging system

-80% of the revenue will be distributed to the developers, mixi will take 20% commission.
-mixi Payment API will be available to use, developers can link to sites outside mixi to use their own charging system as well.

3)mixi fund

-mixi will invest on developers who will develop mixi appli. They will either loan money or buy the mixi appli from the developers, and Community Factory[ja] received the first investment.

2) Yahoo! Auction

Yahoo! Auction[ja] is the largest online auction site in Japan. SDK and Sample code can be downloaded here[ja]. They have 9 APIs public so far:

  1. Display product list
  2. Auction search
  3. Display category information
  4. Display list of products in the bid
  5. Display detail information of the product
  6. Display bidding history
  7. Display all of the bidding histories
  8. Display Q&A contents
  9. Display evaluation
On their blog, they wrote "For example, by using 1, 3 and 5, you can make a Yahoo!Auction clone service. Please give it a try!" - amazing.

Yahoo! Japan has already launched various other APIs including search API[ja] (web search, image search, video search and related word search), map API[ja](javascript, flash, and local search), various text analysis APIs[ja], shopping APIs[ja], news API[ja], QA site API [ja], category API[ja], certification API[ja], and music API[ja].

Yes we still have the language barriers, but we're changing gradually :)


Akihabara Incident and its aftermath

I wrote on this post that many people are trying to cheer up the town of Akihabara.

I think most of you know what happened, but writing a post just to recap on what happened and what happened as an aftermath of the Akihabara massacre incident. 

*** What happened in Akihabara last year***

The Akihabara massacre was an incident of mass murder that took place on Sunday, June 8, 2008 in Akihabara , Tokyo.

At 12:33 p.m. JST, a man hit a crowd with a truck, eventually killing three people and injuring two; he then stabbed at least 12 people using a dagger killing four people and injuring eight. The Tokyo Police arrested Tomohiro Katō , 25, on suspicion of attempted murder. He later told: "I was tired of life. I came to Akihabara to kill people, it didn't matter who they were."

***Ustream, photos, amateur journalism and morality***

People who were in Akihabara watching the incident took various reactions including shooting photos with their cell phone cameras and distributing them, some of them went on and started a live streaming using ustream. This attracted attention and drew lots of debate about the morality of journalism.

This blogger who happened to be in Akihabara reported on his blog[ja] about what he saw with handwritten maps. 

A man who ran to help the injured people wrote a detailed diary on mixi about what he experienced (copied on Hatena anonymous diary[ja]):

This is a set of photos posted on Flickr from the venue of the incident.

This is a blogpost[ja] of a blogger who was ustreaming the incident. He thought only people who knows him will watch but the stream was found out by 2channelers and the viewers increased to 2000, and as the viewers increased, he says he felt an excitement just like journalists. "Police asked me if I was happy shooting the misfortunate people." - he writes in his blog. Many questioned the morality of his action whereas others accepted this as journalism. What he was streaming was majorly policemen, etc and not the injured people / dead people btw. 

This is a blogpost[ja] of another blogger who was ustreaming the incident. "Crowd of people, police cars, red things spilling on the road... what's all this after an hour that I passed by before going into the cafe??" He kept shooting and had 2000+ viewers as well. "I was ustreaming... just like I was streaming inside the cafe I was in before the incident. I never thought I was doing anything immoral..." 

Why are they accused of being immoral whereas the mass media (especially the TV crews) were shooting the injured people, the suspect etc that the amateur ustreamers avoided to shoot? 

In this article[ja] Chiki Ogiue says "Akihabara is the largest media city in Japan, and people walking around here are becoming 'physically media'. Then mass media comes and creates media scrum. Bloggers then shoots those media scrums. There weren't any clear difference between media and curious onlookers. There was just a mixture of 'people who are viewed' and 'people are viewing'." 

This video from G8 summit demonstrator's arrest shows that mixture of dozens of cameras both mass media and individuals trying to capture the scene... 

In a radio program called "LIFE"[ja],  IT journalist Daisuke Tsuda says that live streaming by individuals should not be considered as the same as mass media. Quote, "I believe in the positive power of the internet. However when I heard about the ustreaming of the incident, I instantly felt disgust." "Mass media has social roles to report to the public as it is expected by the people who wants to see it. Individuals (such as the people who did the ustreaming) don't have that social responsibility. Being considerate about and understanding the fact that the people might be hurt by their action... I can't imagine that the people who streamed had understood that responsibility before they did it." " Personal internet streaming is a part of lifelog which is in a different layer from journalistic reporting."

Hiroyuki Fujishiro, an ex-newspaper reporter and a blogger writes[ja] "A photo of a starving Sudanese toddler stalked by a vulture which won the Pulitzer Prize raised lots of accusation of the cameraman for not helping the girl and instead shooting a photograph. When you're in the actual venue, it's not easy to make a clear line of justice and social meanings." "Some people may say mass media has the social responsibility to report to the public (but individuals don't.) However popular blogs by individuals has millions of readership. Isn't this 'reporting to the public'? " He concludes " Expressions always have possibilities to hurt others. In this era when anyone can have media, there is no meaning to ask which information is "just" or not. We should realize the reality that anyone already HAS media and think about how to make it better." 

Michiko Nagai, a reporter of CNet Japan writes on her personal blog[ja] "Camera is a gun. Nonetheless I will shoot it towards people." She writes that above mentioned photo of a starving Sudanese toddler stalked by a vulture by Kevin Carter gave her such a big impact that changed her life. "Cameras are often mistaken with rifles at battlefields and lots of cameramen gets shot in the battlefields. I think it is the same with the people who gets the photos taken too. If I am hurting the people each time I take a photo of someone, the only thing I can do is to shoot photos as much as possible that makes people happy or moved." She concludes, "I'd like to say just 2 things. 1) If you are shooting a camera towards others, be prepared to take responsibility about it. 2) Even if you are not mass media- if you are going to criticize others as a media, be prepared to take responsibility about it."

Then there was this incident[ja] that Haruko Momoi, a famous anime voice actor experienced when she went to Akihabara after the incident- to pray for the victims and to give flowers to them. She asked the press surrounding the flower table not to shoot her photos. But as soon as she placed the flower, cameras started shooting her photo. Lots of flashes surrounded her. She repeatedly asked not to take photos of her in a loud voice, but the mass media just kept shooting photos.

A blogger ululun writes on his blog[ja] " [people talks about morality of ustreaming and shooting photos of the Akihabara incident, but] wasn't journalism inherently an act that invades into the lives of the people they don't even know, shoot with their cameras and show it on TVs, newspapers and radios?" He takes an example of an incident that the bus was put on fire and a cameraman who happened to be near the bus started shooting, but he learned later that one of the victims was his sister and he was so shocked that he left his job. There's only one difference here- whether you're in the cluster of victims (like being a relative)  or just an outsider. A journalist Toshinao Sasaki takes up this post in his blog[ja] and continues: "If  the people who were shooting photos in Akihabara felt that they could've been one of the victims and felt the same pain - then they're one of 'them'." However, "most reporters in the mass media tries to avoid being 'one of them' as they are facing incidents everyday and reporting becomes a routine work for them."  That is probably why mass media kept shooting Haruko Momoi's photos as an outsider without understanding her pain.

***Murder Announcement on BBS***

Before committing the murder, Kato wrote around 3,000 posts on a BBS[ja] how he feels hostile about the society, how he feels lonely, his plan to mass-murder, etc. He was told that he was going to be fired- and that hurt his mentality too. This wiki[ja] has a copy of all of the posts.

On the day of the incident, he starts writing his posts at 5:21 AM saying "I will kill people in Akihabara. I will tackle with a car and if I can't use car any more, I will use my knife. Goodbye everyone."
11:45 "Arrived at Akihabara." "Today the roads are free of vehicle right?
0:10  "Time to do it" 
... and the incident happened at 0:30.

***Yokoku-in, Yokoku-out, Yokoku-off***

After this incident, the government announced that they will make a system to detect murder announcement on websites using several million USD. 

On 6/12, an engineer called Satoru Yano[ja] stood up and made a website in just 2 hours called "Yokoku-in[ja]" to detect murder announcements on websites, with several hundred USD instead of million. The service searches on BBS (2 channel) with specific keywords such as "murder announcement" "kill" "bombard" etc,  and lists those threads on the top page, it also searches on social bookmarks and blogs using various APIs to capture those information.

Then an engineer called Hamachiya created a joke site called "Yokoku-out (returning error as of 5/11)[ja]" which is a BBS that enables you to announce murders. The letters posted on Yokoku-out will be changed to pictures so that search engines, Yokoku-in nor the system that is going to be developed by the government using several million USD will not be able to capture the words.

Then another engineer called shohoji created another joke site called "Yokoku-off[ja]" which is a BBS that makes all of the murder announcements into jokes. 

***Police in action for murder announcements***

Enough with the jokes- but the police was serious. They started arresting people using  Yokoku.in. This article[ja] on IT Media (IT news site) in July last year reports that Yano-san had been reporting 3 incidents per day to the police. 

The problems are- that even if you write jokes, you might get arrested. For example an 18 year old boy who wrote on 2Channel that he will "reailze what happened in Akihabara" and that he will go to Nagoya station to till people." It's actually not "kill(殺す)" but a similar letter (投)which means throw instead of kill. 76 policemen (really???) were sent to Nagoya staion during the weekend to secure the safety of the station and the boy was arrested on charges for police activity intervention.

Similarly, a 32 year old man wrote that he will go and kill people at Ueno station of Saikyo-line (which does not exist and was a joke) but got arrested.
Another incident was that a 23 year old man was arrested for writing that he will "burn and kill 小女子". The word can be read as "elementary school girl" but at the same time as "kounago- a small fish". Prosecutors demanded the penalty of 1.5 years in prison for this.

Such vicious cycle of people announcing murder as a joke and people telling the police, police arresting them -and snowballing those cycles- apparently was not healthy. It is said that as of November 2008, there were 20 cases of arrest that was triggered by Yokoku.in, and people started bashing the service for accelerating murder announcements.

One blogger (who already deleted her entire blog) wrote on her blog that she will commit suicide which she wasn't really serious about. However, because of that post, police came to her house to investigate. "Are they saying if you're going to die, shut up, don't blog about it and die quietly?" she expressed her anger. She continues that "they should send good doctors or counselers when they see those murder announcements or suicide announcements... not the police".

***The reason the incident happened/labor issue***

In addition to being completely lonely and not having girlfriends, Kato was told that he is going to be fired from the company he worked for which impacted him mentally. 

This blogger[ja] says his father works for the same company as Kato which was a subsidiary of Toyota, and that the company was operated in kanban-style and even the workers were treated in kanban-style. "Oil price surge was hitting the automobile industry heavily and 3/4 or all of the part-timers were going to be laid off in that company."  Quote: "People who are not treated as human will not treat others as human." 

Right after the Akihabara incident, labor minister Youichi Masuzoe proposed to abolish 'daily based dispatched labor[ja]'" saying "jobs being unstable is not a desirable state." Hm okay... but abolishing those daily dispatched labors should not mean they will be kicked out of the labor market, there should be an alternative plan thought out. 

Work-sharing (to have the laborers share their work- each working less with lower salary to decrease the number of people getting fired) has started in various companies, "Toyota, Mazda, Toshiba and Fujitsu have all taken up some kind of work-sharing" according to JapanTimes.

During the yearend of 2008, the Japanese mass media was reporting heavily about the problem of dispatched workers. Dispatched workers are workers who are hired by employment agencies and are sent to companies. It is said that many of them are sent to factories and are engaged in heavy labor with cheap salaries. As they are not hired directly by the companies, they have a higher risk of being fired. Because of the bad economy, companies started firing the dispatched workers, and some of those workers did not have houses to live in (they lived in cheap dormitories of the factories) they were out in the cold, had no job and no where to live. A temporary shelter called "haken mura (dispatched workers' village)" was created in Hibiya park during the yearend to provide temporary housing and meal service for those homeless/jobless people.

***Aftermath of Akihabara incident***

No knives over 5.5cm please: 
After the Akihabara incident, a bill was passed to ban the posession of knives with blades on both sides (like dagger knife)  longer than 5.5cm. If you have them, you will need to export them outside Japan or dispose it by 7/5, 2009. There were people questioned by police for carrying knives in Akihabara. Better not carry anything suspicious with you.

Otaku hunting:
Looks like some media tried to blame animes as the cause of Kato's murder as you can see on this blog post by Japan Probe: "Fuji TV focuses on Akihabara killer’s love of anime". However in Japan lots of people loves animes and you can't imagine all of them becoming a potential murderer. Takuro Morimoto writes in his column[ja] "I think the reason why Kato commited murder was not because he was Akiba-kei, but because he could NOT become Akiba-kei." "If Kato could've [become sociable enough to] join the Akiba-kei community, he probably wouldn't have done such a crime." He continues. "Kato is guilty not only because he killed and hurt many people, but also because he broke the reputation of the Akiba-kei people who were living seriously and cheerfully with their love for 2D world (like manga and anime etc), and deprived them of their oasis- the town of Akihabara."

Lack of pedestrians/performers paradise:
Akihabara was famous for their weekends being vehicle free (meaning no cars can enter the main streets) and was a paradise for performers, singers, cosplayers, etc, but the "vehicle free Akihabara" had been abolished ever since the Akihabara incident for nearly a year now. 

This Sunday, vehicle free Akihabara revived just for one day- due to Kanda Matsuri festival. Members of Hacker's Cafe sat down in the middle of the road with a smile and started hacking. The letters at the top of the photo means "Viva internet!" 

I hope some day in the near future, the happy vehicle-free pedestrian/performer paradise of Akihabara comes back to life.

Business Models of Social Media in Japan

I found this blog post "Comparing the business models of Mixi,Mobage-town,GREE,and NicoNicoDouga [ja]" by Mr. Toru Saito interesting and am writing this post inspired by his.

This is a translation of his chart, which includes some assumption on GREE's ratio of avatar sales vs fixed fee.

(data of mixi: 2008/3 DeNA:2008/3 GREE:2008/6 NicoNicoDouga:2008/9)

mixi [ja], the largest SNS of Japan depends 93% of their revenue on advertisement.

Mobage-town [ja], the leading mobile SNS/game site attracts users by free games, stimulates them to get game items and avatars which needs virtual money (Moba Gold), and in order to gain Moba Gold the users visits EC site which leads to revenue via avatars and affiliates. Avatars consists almost a half of the total revenue.

GREE [ja] started as PC SNS but lost the market to mixi, became successful by shifting to mobile SNS. They resemble a lot to Mobage-town. The biggest difference was that Mobage-town initially did not charge their users(they started doing this but is still a low ratio within the total sales), GREE does (GREE Plus for mobile, GREE premium for PC users) which makes them additional revenue source.

NicoNicoDouga [ja] is the largest third largest, but hottest video sharing site in Japan. Their "premium users" are increasing drastically recently, and the fixed fee from premium users has become 2/3 of their revenue. They are still on the red due to heavy network cost, etc.

The chart at the top only gives the ratio of the sales - adding another chart I made to show the sales volume to give you a sense of the business size as well.

On 5/1, DeNA announced their financial report of their Fiscal Year 2009 [ja].

This is the chart showing Mobage-town's sales, membership and PVs which you can see the ratio of sales has changed from last year, membership is growing steadily but PVs are not really growing for the last year or so till this March when it suddenly popped up.

For those of you who wants to see some more info on the latest DeNA fiscal report:
Ads on Mobage-town and game-related sales surged and their quarterly sales exceeded 10 billion yen(approximately 100million USD) for the first time. DeNA is going to focus on charging the games for the next quarter, considering the current state of advertising market in Japan.

Annual sales of the whole company was 37.67 billion yen(up 26%), business profit 15.8billion yen (up 25%). Annual sales of Mobage-town was 19.61 billion yen (up 27%). They made a minimum guaranteed exclusive ad sales contract with D2 Communication and Cyber Communications (CCI) which helped to surge their ad sales (Direct ads 78% / Tie up ads 12% / Ads on search results 10%)

Monthly PV as of of March,2009 is 18.7billion PVs. Item charge within the games within Mobage-town is 100 million yen per month as of March.

Kanda Matsuri

Yesterday I joined Kanda Matsuri, one of the 3 largest festivals in Japan.

This is a picture of one of the mikoshis I took yesterday.


Kanda Matsuri has its origin from a long long time ago, it became a large festival during the edo era. In 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa asked Kanda Myojin temple to pray for victory when he was about to fight against Kagekatsu Uesugi, and also when he fought against Mitsunari Ishida at Sekigahara battle. Then, on 9/15 - the very day of Kanda Festival - , Ieyasu won the battle and was able to rein the whole country. Ieyasu was very grateful for the Kanda Myojin and made a big donation to make the Kanda Matsuri big and successful. Even after that, Kanda Matsuri meant a lot to the Edo Bakufu(feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu), from 1617, Edo Bakufu funded some of the cost to create/repair the mikoshis, and from 1688 Kanda Matsuri was allowed to enter the Edo Castle which enabled the Shoguns to watch them.

Kanda Matsuri's schedule for this year is as follows:
5/7 sacred music performance to welcome the god
5/8 gods enter each mikoshi
5/9 mikoshi will be carried around Kanda, Nihonbashi, Oote, Marunouchi and Akihabara area in Tokyo
5/10 Mikoshi goes back into the temple
5/14 tea ceremony and noh performance
5/15 reitaisai festival

Yesterday was one of the highlights as the mikoshis were carried around the town. Because Kanda Myojin is ujigami (temple that protects the area) of Akihabara, the old and traditional festival was somewhat blended with various IT/moe aspects. For example they had live streaming of the event and official blog for the event, my favorite was this live mikoshi map that shows you where the mikoshi is. This picture of a girl shows you where the mikoshi is.


Here are some photos from the festival. I like the old-meets-new and analogue-meets-digital sort of mixture from these photos from Akihabara :)

神田祭 神田祭

神田祭 神田祭

At Kanda Myojin temple, there were various dance performances and music performances taking place.

神田祭 神田祭

A wonderful mikoshi placed in Kanda Myojin.

神田祭 神田祭

First, the troops on the horse arrived. One of the troops ran up the hill and made an announcement in ancient Japanese style, and ran down to let all other troops up. It was a wonderful performance!

神田祭 神田祭

Then all of the mikoshis started coming into Kanda Myojin.

This is a mikoshi of a devil and a mikoshi of a catfish.

神田祭 神田祭

In this website, you can see the same creatures' mikoshi drawn in an old picture of Kanda Matsuri.

Some of the traditional mikoshis.

神田祭 神田祭

Shishimai mikoshi.


In case you don't know what shishimai is, this is a photo of shishimai performance. You cover your head with a mask of a tiger and dance to traditional Japanese music.

There were lots of children sticking their head in the mouth of Shishimai...


Tengu mikoshi (Tengu is ancient Japanese imaginary monster with long nose.)- this was created by university students.


Chicken Mikoshi


Elephant Mikoshi-indian style.


This year, a new mikoshi joined the parade. It is a mikoshi of a famous anime character Keroro Gunso. This is the first time anime character's mikoshi is made for Kanda Matsuri. This mikoshi was made in an effort to cheer up Akihabara that has been impacted by the slaughter incident last June.


BTW, I was able to see Akiba Mikoshi, which was created last month also to cheer up the town of Akihabara.


Akiba Mikoshi did not perform in the real Kanda Matsuri, but you can see the video from last month here: