Rural town gets help from manga artists to sustain local economy

The town of Ugo in Akita prefecture is wintry, snowy, and hungry for tourists. That’s why local retailers solicited help from manga artists in marketing local produce to youngsters and foreigners—by putting images of cute cartoon character girls on packages of rice, one man transformed his dwindling business into an enormous otaku trend. His bags of high-quality Akitakomachi with the naime girl cover costs nearly $30 each, but the entire batch sold out on the day it was released. Prior to packaging it this way, the company was selling only 18 tons of rice a year—with the new marketing plan, he’s selling 32 tons a MONTH. Amazing!

via Japan Probe

Where to sell used otaku goods in Tokyo


Last week, I went to Nakano Broadway—the real mecca for geeks (critics say Akiba has become tourist heaven)—with moot, the mysterious guy who founded 4chan (yes, I did meet him, you can believe me or not believe me, I don’t care). We just walked around for a couple hours, I bought a superhero Gachapon and he bought a lighter and a figurine. I felt like taking pictures here would disrupt the otaku safe-haven-like atmosphere, but was fascinated enough by this kaitorisho—where people can sell everything from used manga to old cosplay costumes to random toys found in their home—to take a couple of quick photos. How in the world do they put values on things here? It’s so interesting. For example, the sign below claims that Peko-chan goods will sell for very high prices. The girl in the pink wig was selling a ton of random stuff.


My afternoon at Monkey Net, a halfway house for otaku


Yesterday afternoon, I found myself with two hours to kill and an itch to do something meaningful in Akihabara. I sat down at Mister Donuts with a French cruller and American coffee, reading the Cool Japan Akiba guide book that I had half-jokingly bought the day before at Nakano Broadway with Moot, the founder of 4chan. I tried checking my email on my iPod Touch but had no luck. There’s this crazy building on one of the side streets that I was dying to check out. It has, one on top of the other, a Gundam bar, a military-themed cafe, and a imouto maid cafe where they call you "big brother" and "big sister" instead of master and mistress. I walked over. Gundam bar and military cafe were closed, and I just couldn’t imagine walking into the imouto place by myself, so I left. I tried checking my email on my iPod Touch but had no luck.

Finally, I decided I was tired of walking around and checked myself into Monkey Net.

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Yasuo Fukuda Is The New, Very Old Prime Minister

Guess who’s filling Abe’s resigned shoes as PM of Japan? Yep, this 71-year old grandpa, Mr. Yasuo Fukuda. His father was prime minister, actually, from 1976 to 1978—he’s the first 2nd gen PM of Japan.

Too bad Taro Aso lost. That could have been the ultimate otaku revolution. The guy’s a known manga maniac and proponent of having Gundam be the next ambassador to the world.


Maid Taxi Offers Otaku Paradise On Wheels


You’re a big geek going to Tokyo for the first time. Why not make the most of it by hiring a Maid Taxi to take you around? These cabs come equipped with PS3s, a deck of cards, and a sexy Japanese girl in a maid outfit to pamper and please you. Rides start at 1200 yen, and for an extra 200, you can play competitive games with your ridemate—if you beat her, you get to win some special items belonging to her! No, not her panties, you pervert. Or maybe. I’m not sure. She’ll even go to dinner with you. This is a great, great service for the cosplay fetishist—or anybody else who wants a little bit more entertainment than the tacit white-gloved cab driver of times past.

Maid Taxi homepage (via News on Japan)

Magazine for American Otaku Launches

Picture_4What is an otaku?

Simply stated, an otaku is a nerd. But a distinctly Japanese kind.

A stereotypical otaku has a huge manga and anime collection; toys and figurines; more friends online than in real life; longish unkempt hair, skiddish eyes, and a goofy but sincere smile.

Patrickmacias Yeah, kinda like this dude in the picture…except wait, he’s American! Fully aware of the conflict between his nationality and his obsessions, this thirty-something year old—my man Patrick Macias—decided to embrace the fact that he was indeed an American otaku. And then, as he went public with this admission, he realized that he wasn’t alone—in fact, there was a huge underground of Americans who had stashes of Gundam toys, bookshelves lined with shojo manga, and liked to dress up as their favorite superhero. We need to unite! Macias thought. And so he started a magazine.

Otaku USA kicks off this summer with its premier issue, featuring manga, anime, games, and music geared towards American audiences who love Japanese otaku culture.

You can subscribe on their site or pick up a copy at your local bookstore.

The Top 5 Tokyo Maid Cafes

Maid cafes are a popular, totally geeked-out phenomenon centered in the back alleys of Akihabara’s electric town. Their specialty? Girls dressed like French maid who say, "welcome back, master!" when you enter, delicate cakes and dainty dishes that make you feel like you’re in a fairytale, and walls lined with comic books, video games, and figurines that’s like chicken soup for the the otaku’s soul. Overall, these cafes provide superb subservient service to even the nerdiest, loneliest man in the neighborhood.

Here’s a roundup of some of the most popular maid cafes in the Akiba district, with links to reference for your next visit.



Little PSX has everything an
otaku could ever want–a PlayStation, free Internet access,
all-you-can-eat Japanese snacks, and waitresses that draw ketchup
kittens on your omelet.


The royal British maids of Melty Cure offer reflexology and aromatherapy as well as quality alone time with your maid of choice. Aaaaaahhhhh.

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Vagina book is the new Akiba bestseller.


You just never know what Akiba geeks will get obsessed with next. First it’s robots. Then it’s Gundam. Then it’s PDAs. Now it’s medical books about female genitalia. That’s right, the newest craze is over a book called "A Guide to Pain and the Female Reproductive System," which, on the streets, is simply referred to as "the vagina book."

Why a bunch of nerdy guys who have probably never touched a woman–never mind experienced reproductive pain–would be placing orders at geeky Akiba bookstores for the already-sold-out, 12-page, 1,900 yen medical guide book is totally beyond me.

"We started selling it in September and news spread over the web, which sent sales skyrocketing. Salarymen in their 20s and 30s are buying most of the copies. But I still have absolutely no idea why it’s selling so well," says a bookstore keeper.

One brave 30-something year old salaryman shared his thoughts with us. He says:

I thought I’d buy it to give me some help seducing any women I could bring back to my home.

IF you ever bring a woman home, that is. Good luck to you Mr. Salaryman.

Full story here.

How the otakus are planning to kick the otaku-muggers’ asses.

A couple months ago, I blogged about the otaku attacks in Akihabara and hinted at the upcoming otaku revolution, which may entail the re-creation of Marioworld. I got my first clue as to how they might execute it this morning.

Here’s what I suspect they’re thinking:

1. The otakus buy a box of 12 Marioworld bricks for 4,560 yen. Slightly pricey, but worth the investment.
2. They open each box to find dotgraphic character keychains inside. These are the indispensable warriors who will fight the battle for geek dignity and respect.
3. They put 100-yen coins inside the boxes, which is actually a piggy bank.
4. The otaku-muggers come to Akihabara, looking for rich geeks with Zelda pocket cash to jump. But they get distracted by the question marks on the Mario bricks, which are floating inconspicuously in front of the rows of electronics stores. Curious. the otaku-muggers upper-cut the floating brick and out comes a 100 yen coin! The greedy muggers start going after all the boxes, but some of
them are harder to reach. So they have to bounce of walls and stuff.
5. While the otaku-muggers are bouncing off walls, Dotgraphic Mario will chuck a Dotgraphic  Turtle Shell at them. The

otaku-muggers will get hit by Turtle Shell and die instantly.

I’d like to be able to tell you that this came straight from an exclusive interview with the Otaku Revolutionary Forces, but it didn’t. I’m just speculating, but there’s a high possibility that I may be exactly right.

Akiba high-tech toilets’ grand opening.

Tokyo’s first super-luxury public toilets had their grand opening on the 16th of October, and have since been available to geeks and other Akihabara visitors to pee and poo in for 100 yen a piece. The toilets feature personal attendants who  keep the stalls clean and respond to any urgent…uh…needs that patrons may have. The toilet seats are heated, and do all those things that are expected of toilets in Japan these days, like spray water and air. Touchscreen panels in each stall let you navigate through the Akiba streets and find your desired figurine store or maid cafe while you defecate.

There’s even a baby-changing station in the men’s toilet, which is weird. I have never in my twenty-some years seen an otaku lugging a baby on his back. But whatever. The Chiyoda municipal government must have had a good reason for thinking that spending 90 million yen on this 160-sq meter establishment was a good investment.

(via Akiba Blog)

Secret scoop: Otakus planning a revolution.

In the news recently, stories of attacks on the otaku community in Akiba by punk ass youth who target these poor uber-geeks because they are totally defenseless AND they carry tons of money to buy Gundam toys with. Well, most people don’t know this yet, but the otakus are planning a major attack on the punks in the very near future. The exact date is a secret, but I can tell you this: It’s going to be crazy. Like, the way Nostradamus predicted the world would end. The revolutionary coup will involve never-before-used weapons such as idol trading cards and golden bazookas, and will result in the addition of a fifth island to the Japanese archipelago constructed with spare gadget parts in the shape of Mario’s head.

Stay tuned for more breaking news on this topic.