• Kyodo News


Akihabara partially reopened its vehicle-free pedestrian zone Sunday, allowing shoppers and tourists to browse the Tokyo electronics mecca’s shops and manga stores without dodging cars for the first time since a man went on a fatal rampage there in June 2008.

About 570 meters of Chuo-dori, the main street of the district popularly known as “Akiba,” will be open only to pedestrians on Sundays from 1 p.m. on a trial basis until June. The zone will remain open until 5 p.m. through March and until 6 p.m. through June. If no problems arise, the custom will continue.

Beforehand, a ceremony was held near the site of the rampage to let local residents and government officials offer silent prayers for the victims.

“I get a lump in the throat when I think of the tragic incident and the grievances of the victims and their families,” Chiyoda Ward Mayor Masami Ishikawa said during the ceremony. “We will give our full cooperation in creating a safe and secure Akihabara.”

The street was packed before it reopened at 1 p.m.

An employee from Adachi Ward who has been frequenting the area for more than 20 years said the event was touching.

“I came to take a picture or two in commemoration,” the 37-year-old said, adding, “I’m happy the street is so congested.”

Masahiro Ono, a 35-year-old appliance store employee who works in the district, said it looked like people were here to celebrate, not to shop.

“The street has become lively but today is more of a festive event,” he said. “It’s too early to tell whether this will lead to sales.”

Hiroshi Yuasa, 57, a former taxi driver who was injured by the attacker, laid a bouquet at the intersection where the blood-letting occurred.

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