Akihabara

Crossing gender norms and the continuing rise of “otoko no ko”

Otoko no ko (男の娘) is a Japanese play-on-words for men who identify as men but wear women’s clothing. The term has really caught on in the past few years with some otoko no ko even becoming idol representatives. Some of our favorite Internet stars, including Sailor Suit Old Man and Ladybeard, have already captured our hearts, grizzly facial hair and all.

The newest otoko no ko making waves certainly looks even more like a girl, but still proudly identifies as a man. There is nothing wrong with that! Sofmap, a Japanese retailer of used and new electronics, doesn’t think so either. This beauty has already headlined the first ever Sofmap otoko no ko event that was held in Akihabara last month. So who is he?

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Awesome Akihabara restaurant sandwiched by busy train lines offers more thrills than a maid cafe

For a time, shopping for electronics was just about the only thing to do in Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood. In recent years though, the area has gone through a renaissance, and it’s now packed with restaurants and cafes, too.

Of course, just because your feet are tired and your throat is parched doesn’t mean you’re ready for the excitement to stop. So if you’d like to mix some thrills in with your cafe time, how about stopping in for a drink or snack at a restaurant that’s sandwiched between the tracks of one of the busiest train lines in Japan?

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Akihabara Internet cafe looks like a beautiful Japanese inn, still has tons of free manga to read

Being the very heart of the anime and consumer electronics scene in Japan, it’s no surprise that Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood has Internet cafes where you can also read comics from a massive in-house manga library. But as nice as it can be to immerse yourself in all of the extremely important information available online, or to gorge yourself on a year’s worth of manga at a fraction of the price you’d pay to buy it, you might find yourself wanting to do so in relaxing, even traditional surroundings.

If so, a visit to the Nagomi-Style Cafe Akiba is in order, as it’s the only manga and Internet cafe in Akihabara designed with the look and atmosphere of a Japanese ryokan inn.

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Keanu Reeves tries to be a tourist in Akihabara, gets mobbed by fans instead

You might think that after Keanu Reeves’s 2013 movie 47 Ronin – very loosely based on the Japanese story Chūshingura – became the second biggest box office bomb ever, Japanese people’s opinion on the actor would go down a little bit.

Well, you’d be wrong! On February 11, Keanu Reeves was spotted just walking down the street in Akihabara like any other tourist, and he was instantly mobbed by fangirls and fanboys alike, each one clamoring for the best “Keanu selfies” that they could get.

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Set your alarm! Limited time maid breakfast cafe coming to Tokyo’s Akihabara

For most of their patrons, a visit to one of Japan’s maid cafes comes after a tough day at the office, or maybe as a special reward at the end of a busy week. But if enjoying the cafes’ light fare and frilly costumes can come as a pick-me-up after some hard work, can’t it also provide the energy boost to kick-start your workday?

That’s the theory behind a new, limited-time maid cafe that’s opening up in Tokyo, where customers can bolster their spirits with a maid-made breakfast before heading out to tackle the day’s challenges.

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Death penalty upheld for man convicted of killing seven in 2008 Akihabara murder spree

Even in a country without Japan’s incredibly low rate of violent crime, the events that took place in Tokyo’s Akihabara on June 8, 2008 would have been shocking. Driving a rented truck, Tomohiro Kato, then in his late 20s, deliberately drove into a pedestrian area, only stopping and exiting the vehicle to continue his rampage by attacking still more victims with a knife. Seven innocent people lay dead, with another 10 seriously injured, by the time he was captured by police.

Kato was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death in 2011, a decision his lawyer appealed on the grounds that the punishment was unduly harsh. The Supreme Court disagrees, though, and as of February 2 has finalized the decision that Kato be executed for his crimes.

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CosBox: A rentable room in Tokyo for creating cosplay masterpieces

Just the other day, we brought you news of HACOSTADIUM, a photography studio equipped with over 40 backdrops to create all of your dream cosplay scenarios. But let’s take one step back now–just where are you supposed to design those fabulous costumes in the first place?

Introducing CosBox (コスバコ), a rentable room outfitted with all of your costume-making needs. It just opened this month in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, and its managers are offering some serious opening month deals. Whether you’re a diehard cosplay fanatic or are just breaking into the hobby, CosBox may be the perfect place to prepare for your next big convention!

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Akiba Stealth: Assassin’s Creed brought to Akihabara in “real-life” prior to game release【Video】

Imagine yourself walking through the busy streets of Akihabara (or Akiba), Tokyo’s electronics and gaming haven (a.k.a. otaku central), when suddenly, a nerdy guy busts his way out of a dark alley and does a flip over a passer-by, with guards tailing him by only inches. Surprised? Welcome to “Akiba Stealth.”

In preparation for the November 20 Japanese release of the newest game in the Assassin’s Creed series, “Unity,” the creators, Ubisoft, came out with a promotional video, entitled “Akiba Stealth,” to get the attention of the Japanese fan base. The video is supposed to be a “real-life” Assassin’s Creed in Akihabara, lovingly dubbed “Ota-ssin’s Creed.” (Get it? Otaku + assassinotassin. No?)

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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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