Akihabara is located in Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo and is known for being a major shopping area particularly in the electronics market. Foreigners that visit here are amazed by the culture surrounding the anime industry with maid cafes where waitresses are dressed as maids in character from anime cartoons.
The area around Akihabara Station in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward comes from the word Akiba which was named after a fire fighting deity after a fire destroyed much of the area in 1869. The area was given the nickname of Akihabara Electric Town shortly after the end of WW2 when it became a center for household electrical goods and the black market. The area today is regarded as being an otaku center of culture as well as being a district where you can buy anime, video games, computer goods and manga. While walking through this district you will see lots of anime and manga icons on display in the shops.
After the Second World War, Akihabara grew as an area for entrepreneurs with the focus moving from household appliances to computers from the 1980’s onwards. This was at a time when computers were only used by specialists or those seeking a hobby. The appeal for video games, then anime and manga attracted a certain customer base to the area which is now considered to be a world leader in anything connected with otaku culture.
Tourists that have an interest in Anime flock to Akihabara for its Otaku culture which has helped to shape the district through its buildings. The atmosphere today is as close as possible to the game world that the cos-players help to bring to life. This is especially true in the maid cafes, with employees wearing the costumes of anime and manga characters.
Maid cafes first appeared in 2001 in Akihabara, Tokyo and treat their customers as masters or mistresses and not as a customer. As the craze grew in popularity so have the tactics used to attract more custom. The maid costume is usually based on that of a French maid with the addition that the maid will be in character, usually a famous anime character. Waitresses are usually chosen because of their appearance, young, attractive and innocent looking. The craze has extended outside of Japan to around a dozen countries including the USA, Mexico, France, Australia and South Korea.
Originally maid cafes were designed to cater to male otaku fans and they were classed as the equivalent of hostess bars. The maid’s popularity has appeared in several manga and anime publications and games. Fans will go to specific cafes knowing the maids inside are in the characters of their favorites. Another characteristic employed by some cafes is a maid who is cold in character until she gets sufficient attention. Originally the maid cafes only attracted male customers although now they receive an ever increasing number of couples, females as well as being an attraction or curiosity of tourists.
Even if you are not a strong fan of this electronic craze you cannot fail to be amazed by those fanatics that are.