Akihabara

We try ramen from a can on the backstreets of Tokyo【Taste Test】

Akihabara has a well-deserved reputation as having Japan’s highest concentration of anime and video game shops, not to mentioned maid cafes. There’s one other thing it’s known for, though, and that’s weird vending machines.

And no, we’re not talking about Japan’s fabled panty vending machines, but rather automated sales of odd canned food. A few years back, Akihabara came to be known as the place to score canned bread. Next came the canned oden craze.

On a recent trip to the Tokyo neighborhood, however, we stumbled across something we’d never seen before when we spotted a vending machine that spits out hot cans of pre-cooked ramen.

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Blown all your cash on anime? New restaurant in Akihabara has pasta for less than two bucks

With the highest concentration of anime and video game specialty stores on the planet, it’s pretty easy to go over-budget spending a day in Akihabara. But while some otaku might claim that Japanese animation is their lifeblood, eventually everyone needs to eat something.

So for everyone with a crying wallet and a grumbling stomach, a new restaurant has just arrived in the neighborhood, serving pasta to-go, starting at just 190 yen (US$1.88).

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Akihabara’s first rental nerd looking to cash in on his jobless status

In a lot of ways, the NEET social phenomena is something that could only happen in Japan. The term stands for “not in education, employment, or training,” and refers to those individuals who are neither earning a living nor officially doing anything to approach that basic goal in life.

In many other countries, most people would conclude that a dose of tough love, or a few swift kicks to the backside, is in order. And while that’s the strategy Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino would recommend, in Japan, a large number of parents are willing to support their adult children’s NEET lifestyles for years on end.

Now, though, one man is putting a twist on the “not in education, employment, or training” label by renting out his services as a professional NEET.

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Man arrested for hunting the nerdiest game: Akihabara otaku

The 1993 action film Hard Target is notable for three reasons. First, it was Hong Kong action director John Woo’s American debut. Second, it starred Jean-Claude Van Damme as perhaps cinema’s most physically fit and combat-ready homeless man. And third, its story was one of the finest examples of the rich film genre known as “jaded and wealthy individuals hunting men for sport.”

One man from Saitama Prefecture apparently wasn’t quite up to the task of stalking the kickboxing Muscles from Brussels, though, and aimed his sights a little lower: hunting the otaku nerds of Akihabara.

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Despite having so many maids, officials say Akihabara really needs cleaning up

While Japan’s capital does indeed have the giant TV screens and vivid neon signs that Hollywood movies use as shorthand for “Tokyo,” a lot of advertising in the cities comes from plain old-fashioned legwork, particularly in the entertainment and red light districts. Opening a new restaurant? Trying to drum up business for you hostess bar? In either case, you put an employee on the street, flagging down prospective customers and giving them your establishment’s sales pitch, and even guiding them to the entrance if need be.

However, officials are looking to shut down this face-to-face marketing practice, known in Japanese as kyaku hiki (literally “customer pulling”) in one of Tokyo’s biggest tourist draws, the anime and video gaming mecca of Akihabara.

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Absolutely nothing but knee-highs at Akihabara’s new sock emporium

A while back, we told you about Japan’s Knee-High Socks Day. Held on November 28, or 11-28, the date was chosen because of some wrangling of the Japanese language that enables 11 to be pronounced “ii” (Japanese for “good”), and 28 “knee high.”

By the same linguistic basis, though, you could make the case that February 8, or 2-8, is just as fitting as Knee-High Socks Day. Of course this means losing the “11 = good” portion of the equation, but true fans would argue that the adjective is redundant anyway, as knee-high socks are always good.

In celebration of Knee-High Sock Day 2, why not attend the grand opening of a new shop in Tokyo that sells nothing but that particular piece of clothing?

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This store’s attempt at encouraging students preparing for entrance exams creeps us out

Ah, it’s almost that time of the year again: the dreaded high school entrance examination season. In Japan, high school and college entrance exams, held in early March before the start of the new school year in April, are the bane of every student’s existence. To get into a top-notch school or university, students need to pass a grueling entrance examination, for which they will study months on end until they essentially become zombie slaves with no social lives.

However, Sofmap, a retailer of new and used electronics in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, is apparently using a different tactic to cheer on stressed-out students before their exams. The following twee, which shows a rather inappropriate sign found in the store, almost makes us question the sanity of the store’s employees.

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Anime lies! Akihabara is actually “ugly and boring,” Chinese netizens say

If anime culture were a religion, Tokyo’s Akihabara district would be its holiest site. With all the maid cafes, manga shops and cute “moe” cartoon girls plastered everywhere, Akihabara is usually a must for visitors to Japan interested in all things geek. However, Chinese netizens recently argued (on a site that hosts pirated Japanese anime nonetheless) that the geek mecca is actually really boring and Japan is using anime to make other countries think it is cool and beautiful. Sharpen your claws and join us after the jump for more.

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Last chance to chow down on a kilo of curry rice before famed Akihabara eatery goes extinct

While most of Akihabara’s fame comes from its anime megastores and maid cafes, there’s one other landmark in the neighborhood that people regularly make pilgrimages to. Wherever you find hordes of young men dropping their paychecks on their hobbies, you can also find cheap, tasty grub, and for years, Mammoth Curry has been the place to get your fill of the spicy stuff in Tokyo’s electronics district.

Unfortunately, much like its wooly namesake, the age of Mammoth Curry is coming to an end in Akihabara, as the eatery is closing its doors for good this month.

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New cosplay seller enters stores across Japan, just in time for Halloween

We’re well into fall now, and it’s time to start preparing for some horror-filled festivities on October 31. Japan is getting all geared-up with ghosts and skeletons clearly on display and plenty of Halloween parties planned for the days leading up to the turn of the month. But of course, what’s a Halloween party without a good costume? And what’s a good costume without a band of beautiful girls ready to promote it?

Clearstone costume maker recently released a new cosplay series called Tokimeki Graffiti, modeled and promoted by the idol group, DenpaGumi.inc. Already, whether for the quality of the costumes or the influence of idols, sales are really skyrocketing!

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Meanwhile, in Akihabara…

This little slice of life in Japan came up on Twitter the other day. It’s a simple photo that really says a lot, or as one local commenter said about it: “Take a good look. This is Japan.”

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Get your car washed right: get it washed by some girls in swimsuits for 100 bucks

These days it seems all you can find are mechanical car washes scattered across our urban landscape. Sure they might be cheap and fast, but would you trust your beloved vehicle and decal of Calvin and Hobbs peeing on a Ford logo to the cold uncaring hands of a machine?

No, sir! What you need is the warm and gentle touch that only a woman can offer – a woman wearing a swimsuit since washing a car involves lots of water of course. Also, because school swimsuits offer the most durability they would have to wear those at Swimsuit Carwash in Akihabara.

You see, there’s an excuse reason for everything, including the 10,000 yen (US$100) price tag that comes with the experience.

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Grand Theory of Moe: the Past, Present and Future of Maid Cafes

When it comes to Japan, Akihabara is one place you’ll find on almost every tourist’s map. The name alone immediately brings to mind everything from games, manga, anime, figurines and AKB48 to Gundam, computers and electronics. Still one thing stands out as being particularly iconic: maid cafes.

Most visitors to Tokyo have stopped by one of these cafes at least once, and even if you haven’t, you’re probably familiar with the concept: cute, young women in fluffy “maid” skirts serving drinks and food while giggling with customers and, often, putting on shows. But have you wondered where these cafes came from? Read More

Six People Injured by Escalator in Akihabara, Once Again Proving that People in Tokyo Use the Wrong Side of the Escalator

On 24 April at approximately 9:25 a.m., six people were injured while riding an escalator in Akihabara Station, Tokyo.

All the victims suffered injuries as serious as broken fingers when a piece of metal siding became bent upwards blocking the clearance between it and the rubber handrail.

Sadly, this digital carnage could have been easily avoided if people in Tokyo just stood on the right side of the escalator like normal people.

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Akihabara Inspires a Rare Picture Jockey Performance

If you have an eye for detail, you might just recognize the place in the image above. It’s an awesome rendering of Tokyo’s Akihabara. And it’s from the skilled hand of a former quantum physics researcher turned picture jockey. 

John Hathway (pseudonym), the Japanese artist who created the picture, is known as a picture jockey (PJ) because he builds images the same way a disc jockey mixes tracks; by improvising with new patterns and arrangements and blending backgrounds to create totally unique and exciting works of art.

Now he’s teamed up with Tokyo Otaku Mode, a popular site for all things otaku, to celebrate their 10 million-plus likes on Facebook. They thanked fans in a unique way, with the release of this gorgeous image, and a rare picture jockey performance.

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Human Butt Pillows for $11/min: Japan’s “Cuddle Cafe” Adds Cheeky New Service

Sleeping! Hand holding! Awkward conversation and pent-up sexual frustration!

What you’re about to witness, ladies and gentlemen, is “cuddle cafe” Soineya’s new oshiri makura (lit. butt pillow) service; the latest in awkward things that men can pay to do with young girls who don’t actually like them.

The concept is simple: a pretty girl enters your private booth, lies on her front and lets you rest your head on her bottom. But don’t drift into too deep a sleep, there, sonny- just one minute of oshiri makura action will cost you an incredible 1,000 yen (US$11).

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Messing with These Vending Machines May Result in Severing of Fingers and/or Published Photos of Your Genitals

Rumor has it that among the numerous maid cafés, manga, DVD, and video game shops in Akihabara, Tokyo, there exists a unique corner full of vending machines.

The machines contain typical fare for Japan – colas, teas, snacks, condoms, and such – but are guarded by savage penalties unbecoming of the general levels of politeness in this country. In fact, often involving dismemberment, these penalties seem more at home in a bleak post-apocalyptic Thunderdome type society than urban Tokyo.

Few know about this legendary group of vending machines outside of Akihabara aficionados. So our reporter, Kuzo, decided to venture up the electric river of Akihabara in search of the Heart of Vending Machine Darkness.

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Electronics aren’t the only things coming out of Akihabara these days! If you’re a pudding lover, you’ll be thrilled with this tasty custard dessert, something that karaoke and leisure company Pasela has on their menu at their newest venture, bakery Honey Toast Cafe. 

And that’s not all! The custard dessrt is served in the cutest little pottery honey pot which you can take home with you!

With the entire first floor of the giant leisure site being a bakery, you can enjoy a variety of bread and sweet treats- this pudding included- before heading up to the seventh floor to scream into a microphone.  Or, if you don’t need to let off steam with a little karaoke, you can remain downstairs and go straight to the pudding!  Read More

We Visit Otaku Cooking School, Kitchen a la Mode, Find it Isn’t Just for Nerds

One of the most common stereotypes of nerds, or otaku as they’re known in Japan, is that they cannot cook and subsist on a diet of instant noodles and soft drinks.

Kitchen a la Mode is a new cooking school in Akihabara that hopes to get otaku off their chairs and into the kitchen by providing simple, hands-on cooking lessons with cute girls.

You may remember reading about Kitchen a la Mode on our site last month. Curious as to how the school has been doing since opening, RocketNews24 sent its handsomest American correspondent (me) to Kitchen a la Mode to experience moé cooking firsthand. Check out his (my) report below!

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Zombie Maid Café Serves Up Terror in Tokyo Before Halloween

Despite their irrepressible desire to rip off and devour our flesh, people love zombies. Zombie movies, zombie books, zombie games, zombie theme park events… people are just as obsessed with “consuming” zombies as they are with consuming us.

And now, with Halloween just around the corner, there are more ways than ever to get your zombie fix. In Japan, for example, you can even sit down and have cute zombie maids serve you coffee at the zombie maid café, Maid of the Dead.

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