Also spelled tamaguchi, I guess this is the Hong Kong spelling that I am more familiar with.

A fad that was huge a while ago in Asia and America than disappeared faster than the "I didn't do it" boy of Simpsons fame. I have no clue what tamagotchi means in Japanese, but I do know it did represent the term Asian fads in its most pure form. Small and supposedly cute, with some electronic circuit to give it the Asian touch. One second this thing was in vogue and all the rage for little kids, the next day nobody knew what the hell they were.

tamagotchi were little egg-shaped virtual pet toys. Originally, there was only the chicken variety, but they expanded to puppies, kittens, even little babies (yes, obscene isn't it). You can feed them and do things to them by pressing two buttons. If you mistreat them they die. I guess the goal is to preserve one's life for as long as possible. These things were noisy and annoying. Some people went as far as to actually bury their dead "pets" (it was supposedly a one-shot deal when you buy one), however, most people don't realize you can simply replace the battery and toggle a switch and it would be up and running again. Oh those marketing people know how to squeeze the last buck from gullible customers....

At one point, teachers were considering to ban them from classrooms because they were disruptive because kids were taking care of their "pets" instead of listening to them. The next thing you knew, they completely disappered from America, making sparodic appearances but mostly dead, having been replaced by Discmen in Asia and pokemon in America. God knows how or why this ridiculous fad gained momentum in the first place, but thank God it is dead as yesterday's flowers.

Fad Cemetery


Died 1997 B.I.H.

In case you were wondering, B.I.H. means "Burn in Hell".

Ours was a sweet little thing, purple with pink trim. We called her Tommy Girl and were amazingly, conceitedly pleased with our lame-assed 17 year old selves that we were the proud parents of this defenseless creature.

Dee had custody the first week, but we were roommates, and often it was I who remembered to feed our little girl first thing in the morning. Still, she was Dee's responsibility. I was very dismayed to discover that when I went home for a weekend, Tommy Girl passed on at the mere age of 5 days, due to poop-soiled living space and lack of food.

It took us a while until we were ready to welcome another of the mythical, magical creatures into our lives, but three days later we were again the proud parents of Tommy Girl the Second. For obvious reasons, Dee granted me sole custody and we revelled in parenthood, watching our sweet little thing thrive hour after hour. Girl II was a happy little critter.

How will I ever forgive myself? One day I blithely set out to explore our new city and left her behind. (How could I?) I neglected to inform Dee of our baby's whereabouts. She said she would never recover from the memories, hearing faint blips of desparation, knowing our Tommy Girl needed her, but being unable to locate her and attend to her most basic needs.

We decided not to have any more girls after that, and mailed the dang tamagotchi back home to Dee's 8 year old sister, the intended recipient.

The word was created as a mix of tamago (Japanese for "egg") and "watch".

The only tamagotchi I ever had was on tamad, a network tamagotchi server that came with an old Debian distro. You could telnet into it, but it didn't allow much more than feeding and petting the critter.

In Japan, some traffic accidents were caused by drivers attending to their tamagotchi but not attending to actually driving. For the ones who managed to escape an accident, the traffic cop on his white motorcycle would have to chase down the offenders.

Shiro-bai ni

- Taguchi Tatsuyoshi, 1997

by a white bike:

Source: Bitoh Sanryu and Matthew Spellman, Senryu: Haiku Reflections of the Times, 1997.

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