The meaning of the word “nerd” in Japanese is “a person who is familiar with a particular field, has a deep passion and knowledge in that field, and deeply loves that field.” There are geeks in fields that I never even thought existed, and their deep knowledge is respectable and professional. Common ones include railways, anime, manga, artists, idols, etc.
- Railroad Fan 鉄道ファン
- Fans of artists and idols
- Post Office Fan
Railroad Fan 鉄道ファン
There are many railways running in the Japan, but there are many ways to enjoy them, not just to use them for practical purposes.
Enjoy the ride – “乗り鉄 noritetsu”
Train fans who genuinely enjoy riding are called “riding irons”. It’s not about watching videos or reading books, it’s about people who like to actually get on the train and get a feel for it.
Enjoy photo – “撮り鉄 toritetsu”
There are also cases such as smartphones, but many people prefer to take pictures of trains using digital cameras or SLR cameras that can take higher quality photos. Some of the photographs are professional, you can enter many competitions, and some are actually building a career as a photographer. However, there are also fans with bad manners who enter places that are not suitable as shooting locations (such as in railroad crossings or agricultural lands).
Enjoy the sound of the railway – “音鉄 ototetsu”
These are people who enjoy the song (departure melody) when firing and the sound when driving. Some people prefer to use a voice recorder to record audio in the car.
Enjoy the nearly obsolete railway – “葬式鉄 soushiki-tetsu”
It is about people who love trains that are actually going to be abolished. It is so called because it is like attending a funeral.
Trivia: Admission ticket for 700,000 yen (about 5,500 euros)
An admission ticket is a ticket that allows you to enter the ticket gate but does not allow you to actually board the train. It is necessary when using the facility inside the ticket gate. They cost about 150 yen (about 1.25 euros), but a collection of “all” of these was released for fans. The product, which costs about 700,000 yen in total, is sold to fans in a limited edition of 250 pieces. Of course, you can actually use it, or you can keep it as a collection. The amount of 700,000 yen may seem expensive, but it is roughly equivalent to the cost of buying all the actual admission tickets, so it is not too high at all.
Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Actually visiting places covered in anime is called “pilgrimage to the Holy Land”. The term “pilgrimage to the Holy Land” was coined because it looked as if Muslims were making pilgrimages to Mecca. There are also needs of customers who make this the main purpose of tourism and contribute to the revitalization of the local economy. However, some fans engage in nuisances, such as making noise in residential areas, and in some cases are disliked by local residents.
Trivia: Helping to Donate Blood
Blood donation is an act that can save someone’s life. By handing anime and manga merchandise to blood donor collaborators, we were able to gain the cooperation of people who had not been interested in blood donation until then. There are many blood donation trucks at the Comic Market (Comiket), which sells a kind of book called doujinshi, but for the Japan Red Cross Society (an organization that handles blood donations), cooperation with blood donation at the comic market is a big support. It’s wonderful that the feeling of love for anime leads to social contribution.
Fans of artists and idols
“Riako (リアコ)” stands for “in love with real (= actually, really)” and refers to people who are really in love with the artist. A person who dreams of actually marrying an artist, who is overly sad or jealous when he marries someone else, or who is overly concerned about gossip stories about dating or marriage. They feel as if the idol is their real boyfriend.
“oshi” is one of the Japanese that is difficult to translate. It is a presence that is a spiritual support when there is a hard time, a comfort when there is something sad, a desire to report when there is something happy, and a person who falls in love with everything in existence and is deeply related to it. For me, Poste Italiane (an Italian post office) is one of them, but the subject is not necessarily a living person, but something that is not an anime character or creature.
Post Office Fan
Traveling to the post office – “post office tour”
A post office tour, which I also do, is a person who makes going to the post office a target of travel. Generally, people go to the post office for errands such as sending letters, but it is not so, it is people who make plans to go to the post office to see the post office, and go to see the post office as if they were going to see the sea, mountains, museums, churches, and towers in tourist spots as sightseeing objects. Fascinated by the design of post offices, touring Japan and post offices around the world is a great opportunity to get to know new and unfamous lands. In both Japan and Italy, there are many people who have visited more than 10,000 post offices, all of which are Japan within the country. Post offices are often only open on weekdays, so much so that some people have changed jobs to work that allow them to take time off on weekdays. Some post offices may have information about nearby tourist spots and post offices, which is one of the reasons to visit the post office.
Go to the post office and save money on the spot – “Travel savings”
If you go to the post office and save money at the counter (not an ATM), you can get a seal with the name of the post office stamped on it. Going around the post office for that purpose and saving money is called “travel savings”. For example, if you save money at the Kyoto Central Post Office (a post office located right next to Kyoto Station), you will be given a seal that says “Kyoto Central Post Office”. By keeping a record in a passbook made of paper, you can know when and where you saved money. In other words, like a stamp on your passport, it becomes your own passbook depicting the trajectory of your trip. Some people have a number of passbooks, which is truly a record of their lives. It has the properties of a stamp rally and makes you want to complete it.
Collection of stamps, landscape marks, and other miscellaneous goods
For those with a habit of collecting, stamps and landscape marks (a type of postmark in which the world is condensed into a diameter of 36 millimeters in the case of Japan) are interesting. This is because you can imagine the culture, history, and background of that era. If you are overseas, you can also imagine the culture and history of that country. For example, I saw on Twitter that a landscape mark from the era of the Pacific War (1940s) was found in a family relic, and it was very interesting to see the landscape marks of places that are not the territory of the current Japan (such as the South Pacific, Russia, China, etc.). In those places that were Japan territories at the time, we can think about the lives of those who were desperately living through the life-changing events of war, and it makes us realize that we are living in history.