akihabara city guide

» Welcome to Akihabara the Electronics Heart of Asia
» Akihabara -- Ground Zero of a Nation in Shock
» Things to See in Akihabara: Adult Shops
» Akihabara Book Stores
» Akihabara Duty Free
» Akihabara Fashion
» Akihabara Gaming
» Akihabara Cosplay Stores
» Akihabara Maid Cafes
» Akihabara Music Stores
» Akihabara Stores
» Akihabara Transport Museum
» Places to Eat: Akihabara Dining Challenge
» Places to Stay in Tokyo: Book Here
Discount Hotel Reservation
» Excursions from Akihabara: Tsukuba Express
» Akihabara History
» Travel Resources in Tokyo
» Moving House in Japan
» Doing Time in Japanese Prisons
» Japanese Movies: Tokyo Drift
» Picking Up Girls (Nampa) in Tokyo

Tokyo Architecture Highlights

Akihabara Street Scene
Akihabara Street Scene Chuo Dori Street
Chou Dori Street
Night View from Roppongi Hills Tower
Night View from Roppongi Hills Tower
Ueno, DownTown Tokyo
Ueno, DownTown Tokyo
Rotors -- Under the Yamanote Line near Akihabara
Rotors -- Under the Yamanote Line near Akihabara Disney Castle, Maihama
Disney Castle, Maihama Tokyo Tower, as seen from Roppongi Hills Tower
Tokyo Tower Viral Tubes, near Landmark Tower, Yokohama
Viral Tubes, Yokohama

akihabara street fashion
AKIHABARA IS NOT THE FASHION CENTER OF TOKYO -- IN THE CONVENTIONAL SENSE AT LEAST. You will probably have to head over to Shibuya or Shimokitazawa or Kichijoji to see how the mainstream youth dress. But if you want to see a wierder, geekier, more deranged side to the Tokyo fashion scene, check out Akihabara. Computers and electronic equipment might be the bread and butter of this place, but between the shopping malls and video arcades a thriving youth culture has grown, in tandem and in keeping with the Blade Runner aesthetics of the surrounds. This is a place where trends are born, and fashions are constantly changing. "Otaku have shifted their focus from lolita and nurses to the new craze, kegadoru," proclaimed Anime Nano, in August 2007. "(Kegadoru is ) literally translated as "injured idols," who are scantily clad babes wrapped in bandages and wearing eye patches."

As you might have worked out already, Akihabara is the otaku capital of Japan, and for lovers of anime and manga culture, this is Mecca. The funny thing is that while in Japan otaku are looked down upon and stigmatized as pathetic, perhaps even dangerous losers, otaku culture is fast becoming the coolest thing around in Europe and North America. I have got a buddy in the publishing industry in Australia, Stuart Ridley, who started a magazine called Gaijin! to promote otaku culture Down Under. In Australia, Ridley told me, the kind of people who go to underground nightclubs and read THE FACE and spend $100 on fashionable haircuts are also the kind of people who dig otaku. To them, Tokyo and Akihabara are buzzwords for futuristic street style cool. Ridley himself visited Tokyo a few years back and while I didn't meet him, I am sure he made a pilgrimage to Akihabara.

Walk along Chuo Dori Street on any Sunday afternoon and you will see the maids, usually surrounded by a paparazzi swarm of otaku geeks, hurriedly taking photos on their cellphones. Some of them are dressed like classic maids, others are clad in skimpy school uniforms or costumes from some anime epic. All of them know how to strike a pose, and work the otaku into a fetishic frenzy. Often its more fun watching the otaku dash from maid to maid, faces grinning like little kids set loose in a candy store, than it is to stare at the admitedly cute maids. This is the human zoo, Tokyo style. In a way it is kind of the reverse of the scene going on at the same time over in Harajuku. At Harajuku it is (mostly) teenage girls competing to express their creativity to the ultimate extreme -- and beyond. At Akihabara deep fantasies get expressed in a more passive, but still interesting way: here it is (mostly) guys coming out of their bedrooms to gawk at girls dressed like their favorite comic book stars. As well as posing in pictures, the maids invite otaku to the many waiting maid cafes for more intimate entertainment.

As one Japanese newspaper wrote recently: "When this many otaku boys get together in Akihabara, someone must feed them somewhere, so cafes and restaurants especially for them have opened one after another."

On Big Empire Dot Com, the maid phenomenon was described thus: "Though the name may imply otherwise, a maid café is not a place to find a woman busily working a vacuum, nor even an ambiguous shroud for yet another type of Japanese sex establishment. With menus, written in deliberately unique Japanese, offering everything from ・スglittle devil・スh cocktails (600 yen) to full-body massages (4,000 yen for thirty minutes), these establishments allow customers to partake in a faux master-and-servant relationship with a young lady sporting a Victorian outfit or other seductive wear, perhaps a uniform based on a popular manga, anime, or video game. Conversations often include such honorific titles as my lord or my lady."

Yes sir it is true, I have seen it with my own eyes... at such cafes waitresses with cute names like "Chocolate" and "Pudding" flirt and play games with customers, and even hand-feed them (for a fee of course.) Cure Maid Cafe was said to be the first of this new genre in Akihabara. Since its opening nearly four years ago, more than 30 other "maid cafes" have emerged in Akihabara alone. With names like "Tea Room Alice" and "Little Beauty's Satanic Dining", it is worth going to some these cafes just to take a photo of the corporate logo on the door. Many of the cafes have shops attached stocked chock-a-block with anime goods, dolls, chinawear, etc.

The burning question is: why are otaku so hot for maids? One maid cafe owner replied simply: "It's because of the image that a maid is always supposed to obey a customer. That has a sort of healing or calming effect on a guy."

Especially a guy who is shy around girls. Many of the otaku you see in Akihabara have probably never been on a real date in their entire lives. Hence their attractions to maids who will mother them while also intoxicating them with their childlike sexual charms!


Kamikaze Style: ・スO・ス_・スc・スP・ス|・スT・ス|・スV・スj・ス・ス・ス[・ス・ス・スa・スr・ス・ス4F.
(4th floor New Touwa Building, Soto Kanda 1-5-7.)
Phone: 03/5207 7860. Web: http://www.kamikazestyle.com/.
Yes, there are regular clothes boutiques in Akihabara! I used to think that Akihabara fashion consisted merely of maid costumes and uniforms out of classic anime. But I was wrong. Here is a place I found today (April 10 2006) in one of the rabbit warren of side streets off Chuo Dori. It is on the fourth floor of a building with a housewife kind of cafe on the fifth floor, and a maid massage outfit on the third floor. It is called Kamikaze.
If you have ever imagined how Hitler would look as a Lego figure on a plain white shirt・スCcome here. Other shirts feature a slovenly and unshaved Winnie the Pooh with some girls on a picnic. Steady on... Shirts cost about 2000 Yen. At the time of my visit, there was Japanese Drum n Bass on the soundsystem which sounded nice. As I already mentioned, there is a maid massage outfit down the stairs (and if that doesn't fire your imagination, then nothing will.)
On their website, Kamikaze Style explains itself to be a "baka (fool, idiot, d1ckhead) brand name", specializing in the ridiculous and the obscene. Having seen some of their shirts, I concur. Put it another way: what does the word kamikaze mean to you? A crazy and illthoughtout attack on forces far superior to your own, like what happened in the Pacific War (1941-45)? At Kamikaze Style you will find the idiots all too keen to commit fashion suicide, and ram their planes into the mainstreams of Japanese social life. But since they were never part of the mainstream social life to begin with, it matters not -- and you have to appreciate their bravery. At least they went out with a bang.
By the way, there is another Kamikaze Style outlet in Shimokitazawa, which is the kind of place you would expect to find this kind of boutique -- rather than amidst the maid salons and geek arcades of Akihabara! But despite (or in spite) of all the geeks, I think Akihabara attracts its fair share of whacky dressers. You might just find them inside Kamikaze Style, perusing all the Lego Hitler shirts.

Hiyokoya: ・ス苴鯉ソス・スP・ス|・スQ・スV・ス|・スQ・ス^・スJ・スI・スJ・スr・ス・ス1F.
(1st floor Takao Building, 1-27-2 Taito Ward, across the Showa Highway from Akihabara Station.)
Phone: 03/5812 5909. Web: http://www.hiyokoya.net.
This name means "Chick's Bar" in English, hiyoko being of course a baby chicken, rather than a cool girl. As with the other selections on this page, the maids greet customers with a loud "Okaeri nasai!" ("Welcome home!"), instead of the usual "Irashaimase!" ("Welcome to the shop!") I figure this adds a homely touch and makes the guest feel that the maid is her personal servant, her heart devoted solely to making him happy.
On the issue of the maids at Hiyokoya, Pam, a Japanese reviewer whose somewhat dated but still interesting site can be found here, said: "・ス・ス・スC・スh・ス・ス・ス・スヘ「・ス・ス・スフ・ソス・ス・ス・スO・スv・スナコ・ス~・スP・スO・スフ影・ス・ス・スネのゑソス・スP・スl・スナ頑張・ス・ストゑソス・スワゑソス・ス・ス・スB・ス・ス・スニ、・ス・ス・ス閧「・ス・ス・ス・スホ、・ス・ス・スC・スh・ス・ス・ス・スニ一緒・スノ写真・ス・ス・スB・ス・スワゑソス・ス・スB"
(Note to readers confused or irritated by all the patches of Japanese script on this page -- if you want to be a real otaku you are going to have to learn Japanese! But anyway, Pam was saying something about the maids at Hiyokoya being "long blacks". And we are not talking about coffees here...)
Another Japanese anime nut wrote this on his/her (probably his) site: "・スH・スt・ス・ス(・ス苴鯉ソス鞫、)・スノゑソス・ス・スA・ス・ス・ス・ス・ス`・ス・ス・ス・ス・ス`・ス・ス・スN・ス`・ス・ス・ス・ス・ス・ストゑソス・ス・ス・ス・ス・ス・ス・スA・ス・ス・スC・スh・スJ・スt・スF・スナゑソス・スB・ス・ス・ス・ス・スA・スX・ス・ス・ス・ス・ス椶・ス・ス・スト、・ス・ス・ス閧「・ス・ス・ス・スホ写真・ス・スR・スノ撮・ス轤ケ・ストゑソス轤ヲ・スワゑソス・スB "
Which in English means: "On the Taito Ward side of Akihabara there is a maid cafe which serves a cheap and delicious lunch. Naturally, the staff are cute, and if you ask nicely, you are free to get photos taken with them."
It must be noted that this place is located a little bit off the beaten track, and away from the main cluster of maid cafes at Akihabara, in Taito Ward. To get to Hiroyokoya you have to cross Showa Dori, the big highway which connects Tokyo with northern Japan. Head north up the highway towards Saitama and Ueno, and turn left after you pass the Daily Yamazaki supermarket. The cafe is open mornings 11am to 3pm and evenings from 5pm to 10pm.
A final recommendation, this time from an American newspaper -- the influential New York Times, no less: "'Welcome home, Master!' cry out the waitresses at Hiyokoya, throwing off a seductive cocktail of submissiveness and fertility that Japanese otakus, or computer game fanatics, find irresistible.
"At Hiyokoya, (81-3) 5812-5909, literally "chick house," the cult of kawaii, or cute, reigns supreme. For the equivalent of about $8.40 the restaurant offers a worldly assortment of lunch dishes: curry rice, pasta carbonara, anchovy pizza or rice bowl with egg. But the real attractions are the French maid waitresses, their black bangs complementing their white lace coifs and black puff sleeves.
"The walls are hung with French maid sketches. On shelves, bottles of plum wine carry labels with wide-eyed French maids imploring: 'Would you mind if I become your partner?'"
Yes indeed, this is the place to go in Tokyo to satisfy all those master/servant fantasies...

Little BSD (Little Beauty's Satanic Dining): ・スO・ス_・スc・スR・ス|・スV・ス|・スP・スQ・スC・スT・ス~・ス・ス・ス・ス8・スr・ス・ス4・スe.
(4th floor Dai 8 Isamiya Building, 3-7-12 Soto Kanda.)
Phone: 03/3252 2733. Web: http://littlebsd.com.
This has probably the coolest name for a restaurant I have seen anywhere in the world. It's what they call in Japan an izakaya -- basically a bar where you can eat a range of small meals while you drink. It looks pretty sleek and swish inside too. In between drinking and eating, you can flirt with the cute maids and pose with them in pictures! There are 15 waitresses and they wear different costumes everyday. They will also hand-feed you if you ask them!
Patrick Rial wrote in his excellent article: "Little BSD is a cosplay izakaya that was also packed to the hilt on a recent Thursday night. The crowd is decidedly normal -- salarymen and office ladies are out in full force. Here, the girls can choose their own costumes, and many are actually anime and manga fans themselves. As an added bonus, the staff will allow you to take photos with them, something that is expressly forbidden at many other maid cafe and bars. They are also quite happy to chat with customers, and most speak conversational English."
It is seven minutes walk from the ElectricTown exit of Akihabara Station -- for a map click here.

Where to Find Anime in Tokyo | Saitama and Beyond | CosPlay Harajuku Stylee | Getting to Kyoto Dead Cheap| Hire Me as a Freelancer
Contact the author Rob Sullivan at coderot@gmail.com. Anticopyright May 2010/July 2004.