I went back to Akihabara today with Richard and Matt to do some window shopping. Shortly after leaving the station, though, we saw a rather interesting car:
Cars decked out this way are called 痛車 (itasha). The word is rather interesting; the first kanji 痛 is from 痛い (itai), meaning painful. The second kanji 車 (kuruma) is the standard word for car in Japanese. So 痛車 literally means painful car. I suppose it’s easy to see where that comes from since decking a car out like that is rather hard on the wallet. The word was originally used to refer to high end sports cars, especially those made in Italy. The word for an Italian made car is イタリア車 (itariasha). If this gets shortened to イタ車 (itasha) as things usually happen in Japan, it’s very easy to make it a pun by switching the katakana out for an appropriate kanji. Hence, イタ車 becomes 痛車.
We also saw a rather small Inari shrine when we were running around Akiba. It’s located down a side street behind one of the Ishimaru stores.