Are you planning a stay in Japan sometime soon? Whether you are planning one now or simply want to learn a bit more about Japanese culture for a future stay, it is a good possibility that you may be just a little curious about the culture surrounding modern Japanese art, comics, and animation.
You may or may not already know that the popular hub of this particular Japanese culture is a place called Akihabara, or “Akiba” to those in the scene.
One feature of Akihabara that is certainly a unique contribution from Akihabara to the world is something called a Maid Café. This is a café which is often very adorably decorated and in which the waitresses are dressed in exceptionally cute maid outfits.
The focus is more on “Kawaii” (Japanese for cute) than anything else as this is one of the ultimate expressions of Hello Kitty culture. Patrons can sometimes sing Karaoke with the maid waitresses and also possibly even act out a voice part in a short animation with one of the maids and bring a DVD home to enjoy.
There is nothing quite like a maid café and it is certainly something to enjoy during your visit to Akihabara.
In addition to the many maids in the cafés and handing out fliers around the Akihabara area, there is also a rather large costume play or “Cos-Play” scene in Akiba too.
You might see women or men dressed up as their favorite anime characters and some are truly thorough in how elaborate and skilled their costuming is. You may also see crowds of amateur photographers with rather high-end cameras gathered around any particularly attractive cos-play performers.
It is one of the few areas in Tokyo you will likely ever see Japanese people wielding cameras in such an active way, regardless of the classic stereotype of Japanese people and cameras.
Taking photos is something that is actually considered somewhat geeky in Japan and so most photos are taken with people’s cell phones as this is much more socially acceptable.
Manga (Japanese comics) and DVD Stores
If you are looking for Manga or Anime (Japanese animation) then you have come to the right place! Akihabara has tons of shops that are literally stocked with floor after floor of Manga and DVD’s as well as posters and more.
Children of all ages will be sure to enjoy the spectacular art and creativity of this unique Japanese expression. Do be sure to accompany any young children or you may be surprised what they find. Comics are for adults in Japan as much as they are for children, if not more.
Figure and Collectable Stores
There are also lots of stores in Akihabara dedicated to Japanese toys. Just make sure you don’t call them toys as some people may be pretty serious about their hobbies.
It is really more of an art form considering how creative and skilled the designers are and also how skilled many of the people who build custom models are.
You may be truly amazed at some of the things you see there. If anything, make sure you take a photo of you posing with some human sized figures of popular Japanese movies and animation.
Japanese Electronics Shops
In Japan Akihabara is known as “Electric Town” because it is the place to go if you want to pick up some electronics and especially if you want them at a good price.
There are numerous stores competing for your business and also many second-hand shops selling Japanese electronics that are often in pristine condition.
Many Japanese people actually keep their electronics in their original packaging when not using them and most second hand items in stores will basically be in “like new” condition.
Have fun in Akiba as it is truly a fun place!