Feeds

Akihabara unplugged: Tokyo's electric town falls flat

Reg hack finds fancy dress maids playing darts, but few unique gadgets

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

To blame the local mayor for this turn of events, however, would only be telling half of the story.

IDC research VP Tomoaki Nakamura explained to El Reg that the area’s waning tech footprint can be seen as evidence of a maturing market, after first the appetite for commodity electronics in the 70s and then home PCs and notebooks in the 90s propelled Akiba to regional and international fame.

“In the technology area, the smartphone era has come and there is so little room for customising those gadgets, other than bumpers, protection films and other accessories,” he explained.

“But the most obvious reason why those small components shops are shut down is due to large constructions in the area and internet commerce, where people come to Yodobashi Akihabara to actually look at and touch the products and then order the products from home. Amazon delivers most of goods within a day for free – the price is much cheaper than the real mega shops.”

Maids, manga and darts

So if there’s not much tech of any noted on show in Akihabara, what’s all the fuss about? Well, the area has definitely adapted into something altogether more strange and uniquely Japanese.

Maid Cafe Akihabara

Taking root initially thanks to the same otaku who visited Akihabara to build and pimp their own computers, shops and cafes devoted to manga, cosplay and anime now dominate the area, turning it into a new Mecca for the nation’s comic book, dressy up, cartoon geeks.

If one also lumps in stores devoted to collectibles, or ‘Hobby shops’, which are frequently devoted to manga and cosplay themes, these cultural oddities now make up the vast majority of Akihabara.

Possibly the strangest to the foreign visitor is the phenomenon of the Maid Café. Spawned originally from the cosplay (basically fantasy dressing up) genre, these hang-outs are regular cafes serving regular drinks and food, except the punter is served by a girl wearing usually a French maid outfit.

Maid Cafe sign TGV

Beloved of certain otaku due to their talismanic appearance in many manga and anime series, these maids behave in an exaggerated deferential manner to their customers. When we arrived at one particular establishment we were greeted with a phrase which translates as “welcome home master”.

Food and drinks could be ordered with the tinkle of a strategically placed bell on the table and food was decorated with quite ridiculous flourishes.

A ketchup heart adorned my omelette with rice, for example.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Analysts: Bright future for smartphones, tablets, wearables
There's plenty of good money to be made if you stay out of the PC market
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.