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Why Kotaku Didn't Save a Japanese Fishing Village

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In the years that Kotaku's been on the internet, the site's done a wide array of things. One thing it's never done is save an entire Japanese fishing village.

Late last week, an Associated Press wire story regaled readers with the story of a small village, called Fudai, in northeastern Japan that survived the tsunami. No buildings were destroyed, thanks to a 51-foot floodgate.


Criticized as expensive and wasteful during the 1970s, the floodgate was the brainchild of the village's former mayor. According to AP, "The man credited with saving Fudai is the late Kotaku Wamura, a 10-term mayor whose political reign began in the ashes of World War II and ended in 1987." Thing is, his name isn't Kotaku.

It's a fantastic yarn and well told by Tomoko Hosaka, a talented writer. Reading it, the name "Kotaku Wamura" popped out at me. Even after living in Japan for over a decade, I've never met with the name Kotaku.


Kotoku Wamura (The Village of Fudai)

As used on this website, Kotaku is a made-up word. When Kotaku first began, before I was hired, the moniker was created out of thin air. "Ko" (小) means "small". "Otaku" (オタク) means, well, "otaku".

Literally, the site's name should be "Kootaku", but that's been stylized to "Kotaku".

All sorts of otaku exist, whether that be train otaku, gun otaku, anime otaku and video game otaku. If you ever wonder what's up with all the anime, manga and other content, well, now you know.


I'm hardly one to point out typos, but the mayor that saved the day wasn't named Kotaku. His name was "Kotoku Wamura" or in Japanese 和村幸得. According to his Wiki, his name's reading is わむらこうとく or Wamura Koutoku.

Other readings for Kotoku's name (幸得) include Koue, Sachie, and Yukie. The kanji literally means "good luck advantage", fitting considering how things turned out for Fudai.


Kotaku Yoshinaga (Blog of Sakaeya)

There is a "Kotaku" first name (幸琢) in case you're in the market for baby names.

An illustrator under the name Koutaku Yoshinaga, or rather, Kotaku (depending on your view of Japanese double vowels) churns out picture books for kids and adults. He didn't save an entire fishing village with an audacious wall, but we'll claim him as one of ours.


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(Top photo: Koichi Kamoshida | Getty)