Embed Instagram Post Code Generator

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The 3 phone calls I received after the Akihabara (Tokyo) stabbing rampage

Assailant Tomohiro Kato held by police

The horrible stabbing spree at Akihabara this afternoon has already made international news. When that happened, I was actually at the MOS Burger near my dorm, having a production meeting with Maiko.

I didn't know anything until after the meeting ended and I was on my way to the Takadanobaba Station to catch a train. As I was on my way there, I got a phone call from Jason, my Hong Kong friend.

"Hey, where are you?" He asked.

"Taking a train to Shibuya." I said.

"Oh, then you're not at Akihabara then. There was a loony who went around stabbing at people with a knife. You better be careful." He said.

"Hm. I see." I continued walking, not aware of casualties then, just a little bothered that something crazy had happened at a place I visited just last Saturday.

When I reached Shibuya, I was standing in front of the Hachiko bronze statue for a while. About to make a phone call to the person I'm supposed to meet (she's another Monbusho scholar who flew over to Tokyo with me, but went to different university), when I raised the phone near my ear, my phone blared loudly (I deliberately gave myself a loud ring tone so I won't miss my phone calls).

Startled, I cursed.

Regaining my composure, I answered the phone.


Apparently, this time, it was from Uncle Yaw and Auntie Yip, two family friends (they're a Malaysian couple based in Tokyo, they were the ones who first told me about the scholarship last time, the latter does Chinese translations for Murakami's novels).

"Hi, where are you?" Auntie Yip asked.

"Hachiko!" I gasped, amidst the loud noises around me. Shibuya was hell noisy then.

"Oh. Are you meeting up with friends?" She said, in a tone that I would many hours realized was one of relief.


"Are you free to talk? Uncle Yaw wants to speak to you." She said.

"Sure." I said.

So for a while, I spoke to Uncle Yaw, where he asked whether I've gotten used to life in Tokyo (I have), and whether I can speak Japanese now ("a little" I said)), and then that was it, they said they'll call some other time and hung up.

After having a quick dinner with Kim Huey and her friends (quick because I declined going to karaoke with them), I went to hang out at TOWER RECORDS (I haven't been there before), and was at top floor (its bookshop), reading a book on Truffaut when I got another phone call.

This time from Mom.

"Where are you now?" She asked.

"Shibuya. Top floor of Tower Records. Reading at the bookshop." I said.

"Oh. Was wondering why weren't you online." She said. "You know about the stabbings?"

"Yup." I said.

"Better to go home if you have nothing else to do." She said.

"All right." I said.

I hung out for another fifteen minutes or so before making my way back. After coming online, I got to know the details of the horrific incident. And I find it a little disturbing that all these happened to places I'm somewhat familiar with (I don't go to Akihabara as often as I go to Shibuya, maybe four to five times since I got here, mostly to buy myself electrical stuff).

I find it rather strange that many conversations and events I went through in the past few days seemed to foreshadow the incident today. In Friday's Japanese Language class, there was me talking about taking a photo with a cute Akihabara nurse (in halting Japanese when the teacher asked us all to give an example of the interesting things that happened to us in Tokyo), on the same day during lunch time, I also had some discussions about maid cafes with the classmates, and even crack jokes about it during another class after that.

Then even on Friday night, at an online conversation with Julian, somehow it veered to maid cafes and all other cosplay cafes. And then there was dinner with Kim Huey and her friends just now, who clearly didn't know anything about Akihabara as they were out the whole day. And she was also suggesting that we should visit a maid cafe in the near future.

Am I overthinking things? Even so, it feels a little disconcerting as I'm writing this now.

But then, I feel sorry for the victims and their family. The assailant Tomohiro Kato may get a death penalty for this, but there's no way for him to pay for the lives that he had taken.