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CUSTOMERS FLOOD AKIHABARA TO SNAP UP NEW PLAYSTATION 3     (Posted by dumbo of NYC, NY - November 11, 2006 11:21)
Customers eager to get their hands on Sony's new PlayStation 3 mobbed Tokyo electronics stores in a buying frenzy on Saturday morning as the game console went on sale in Japan.
Numbered tickets were handed out to some 1,850 people lined up outside the Yodobashi Multimedia Akiba electronics megastore in Tokyo's Akihabara district before sales commenced at 7 a.m.
After a countdown ceremony, Shigeo Maruyama, the former chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), handed over a PlayStaton 3 console to 25-year-old Akihiro Okawa, the first person in line.
"I thought that Yodobashi Multimedia Akiba would have them in stock. There were so many people I thought I wouldn't be able to buy one, so I'm really happy," said Okawa, who said he had waited outside the store since about 10 p.m. the previous evening.
"I bought 'Mobile Suit Gundam -- Target in Sight.' I'm also looking forward to games like 'Gran Turismo HD' and 'Metal Gear Solid 4,'" he said.
SCE President Ken Kutaragi turned up in Akihabara early on Saturday and apologized that only a limited number of the game consoles were available for sale on opening day.
"I'm happy that this day has arrived, but I feel sorry toward the stores that we only have a small number (of the consoles). We want to sort things out somehow by December," he said.
Another Akihabara store, Laox Asobit City stopped handing out tickets at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday when the queue reached 230 people. Before sales commenced at 7 a.m., Sega handed out free Blu-ray high-definition DVDs featuring video clips from the titles "Enchant Arm" and "Armored Core 4."
Customers also lined up outside other stores such as Sofmap, which held draws for the right to purchase the console. (Mainichi)

Below: Akihiro Okawa, the first person to buy the PlayStation 3 at Yodobashi Multimedia Akiba shows off his new console.

SONY PLAYSTATION 3 GOES ON SALE IN AKIHABARA. From the MAINICHI NEWS.     (Posted by dumbo of NYC, NY - November 10, 2006 13:37)
A pedestrian walks past a video game shop where ad posters for the launch of Sony's PlayStation3 are hung at the Akihabara electric shopping district in Tokyo on Friday, Nov. 10, 2006. Video game fans will brave the cold to stand in long lines Saturday when Sony's PlayStation 3 goes on sale in Japan in what's certain to be a sellout launch of the twice-delayed, much-awaited upgrade to the popular console. (AP)
GEEK'S CHEEKS HIT THE SEATS OF AKIHABARA'S NEW LUXURY LAVATORY. From the MAINICHI NEWS.     (Posted by dumbo of NYC, NY - November 03, 2006 10:42)
Tokyo's government desk jockeys have created an ultra high-tech toilet that gives spending a penny an entirely new meaning, according to Shukan Asahi (11/3).

Oasis@akiba, the pricey public convenience, opened last month amid much fanfare.

It's a fully staffed washroom where patrons pay 100 yen (in cash or e-money) to go about their business.

The 160-square-meter, single story luxury loo cost the Chiyoda Municipal Government a whopping 90 million yen to build and is the only public toilet in Akihabara, the capital's famous electronics and otaku district, according to Shukan Asahi.

For the expense, patrons can expect to pee in a pristine potty or sit down on a commode that is both heated and equipped with a washer. On the walls of each cubicle are touch panel displays that provide loads of information about Akihabara and its stores. For those who like a puff with their poop, there are even cubicles for smokers.

Both the men's and women's toilets have an attendant, with three shifts daily ensuring that there is somebody to look after patrons needs during the convenience's operating hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. When the attendants aren't taking care of those seeing a man about a dog or dropping off the kids, they're keeping the place clean by giving it a mop or polish.

About the only complaint users voiced to Shukan Asahi was about the charge, which they seemed to consider fairly steep at 100 yen a shot.

About 150 people used the toilet on the day the weekly spent reporting on it, with men outnumbering women by around two to one. (By Ryann Connell)
PESKY PERVERTS PRY ON OTAKU'S DOLLED-UP MAIDS. From the MAINICHI NEWS.     (Posted by dumbo of NYC, NY - November 02, 2006 10:43)
Akihabara, the one-time electronics district that has been turned into a haven for otaku, has now become a hotbed of "maid hunting" as lowlifes go after the domestic servant-clad cosplayers so adored by Japan's geeks, according to Shukan Asahi (11/10).

"Maid hunting" involves muggers targeting the hundreds of cosplayers catering to the otaku liking for domestic servants, with a growing number of young women accosted on the streets of Akihabara in recent weeks, the weekly says.

An 18-year-old maid has filed a criminal complaint to the Metropolitan Police Department after she was waylaid in Akihabara on the night of Oct. 17.

She was dressed up in her maid's outfit and handing out pamphlets to people as they left Akihabara Station. A young, bespectacled man approached her and asked for directions to her establishment.

The maid accompanied him there, heading up the dimly lit, narrow staircase toward her second-floor diner when the man suddenly turned on her, thrusting a knife in her face and his hand into her knickers before kneading her breasts. He eventually ran away.

Another maid, also 18, says the attack was not an isolated one.

"There have been at least eight other girls who've been targeted by this guy. A month ago, the same guy grabbed my ass a few times as I walked up the stairs. I turned around and gave him a real mouthful and he ran away," the maid tells Shukan Asahi.

Ea Moetto, the maid caf? where the assaults are taking place, only became a maid haven by default. Originally, it was supposed to become a peep parlor where guys paid for a private cubicle to watch adult movies and, well, practice their handiwork.

"I'd bought 3,000 adult DVDs and was hoping to open the peep parlor, but the government wouldn't give me a license because there's a university about to open up (and adult businesses may not operate within a certain distance of educational institutions). I had no idea what to do, but then came up with the idea of making a maid caf? with private booths. I don't get as many otaku customers as I'd expected. Instead, it's mostly normal guys who find us a cheaper alternative to a cabaret club. On weekends, I get as many as 100 customers a day," the operator of the maid establishment tells Shukan Asahi.

Ea Moetto charges 2,500 yen for each 30-minute session with a maid in a private booth, where the customer and cosplayer engage in such pleasantries as sharing a cup of tea or massaging shoulders. For 6,000 yen an hour, the customer may also escort maids outside the store on "walks."

"We strictly forbid anything sexual from going on, but, like cabaret clubs, don't ban love if it happens," one of the club's employees tells Shukan Asahi. "We had one customer pay for a maid for seven hours, then took her out on a date to Tokyo Disneyland." (By Ryann Connell)

November 2, 2006
HIGH SCHOOL TO CHECK IF GIRLS CAN USE CHOPSTICKS AS PART OF ENTRANCE EXAMS. From the MAINICHI NEWS (Tokyo)     (Posted by dumbo of NYC, NY - October 26, 2006 11:52)
SASEBO, Nagasaki -- A girl's high school here will check if applicants can properly use chopsticks during its entrance examinations next year, officials said.

Officials of Sasebo Women's High School said that they wound like to see if applicants have acquired the minimum levels of eating manners by checking their use of chopsticks.

The high school plans to accept 40 first-year students in the spring of 2007 after it carries out two sets of entrance examinations. One course involves general tests of mathematics, the Japanese language and other subjects, while another course tries to accept recommended students through compositions and interviews.

Both examination courses involve whether they can use chopsticks properly.

The "chopstick inspections," which include picking up slippery beans, will influence the screening process to a certain degree, officials at the school said.

"We have never heard of such an examination," said an official with the Cabinet Office food education promotion center. (Mainichi)

From the MAINICHI NEWS, October 12, 2006:     (Posted by dumbo of NYC, NY - October 12, 2006 12:00)
'Rich' otaku geeks right for the robbing
Watch out, otaku! Somebody may be hunting you, according to Shukan Post (10/20).

Once widely shunned for being weird, the otaku have come to occupy a place in respectable Japan, possibly because there are now so many self-professed nerds that they posses significant consumer power.

But it's that same assumed wealth that sees the geek brigade in trouble, with a growing number targeted by muggers in what the Metropolitan Police Department is calling "otaku hunting."

In late September, a group of teens arrested for mugging said they selected their target because he was headed for the central Tokyo otaku haven of Akihabara and appeared loaded with money.

"We figured that otaku are pretty weak and always carry around lots of cash," Shukan Post quotes one of the arrested muggers telling the police.

In fact, this year Akihabara has already witnessed 25 reported cases of "otaku hunting" and cops fear there could be more. The stereotypical image of the otaku is somebody who devotes as much time and money as possible to their obsession of choice, buying magazines, toys and whatever other paraphernalia tickles their fancy. And the geeks are also normally seen as weak, mild-mannered types not likely to put up a fight if accosted.

But, is the image of the rich otaku ripe for robbing the right one? Shukan Post hit the streets of Akihabara, interviewing a selection of self-professed otaku to find out how fat their wallets were and whether they truly were ripe for the picking. The most cash carried by any of the 10 otaku the magazine contacted was 47,000 yen, while the least weighed in with 3,000 yen, while the average amount on hand was 21,900 yen - not bad, but not a huge sum, either.

Shukan Post, however, says that scratching the surface reveals that the otaku are generally surprisingly parsimonious in contrast to their reputation for being big spenders.

"My pal, Tetsu-chan, knows all about trains, so we got him to work out the cheapest route we could take to get to Akihabara. He taught us a way that saves us 10 yen on every trip," a 30-something builder and veteran cosplayer tells Shukan Post. "You may think that 10 yen is not much, but that 10 yen soon multiplies to 100 yen and then 1,000 yen, which is enough to get a ticket to one of the shows they put on (in Akihabara). We're all penny pinchers!"

Tickets for Akihabara shows featuring performers adored by the otaku cost around 2,000 yen apiece, but the district also has plenty of street shows put on for free and dojinshi, the manga drawn by fans, cost around 1,000 yen each, making a trip to the nerd Nirvana a relatively inexpensive one. And the otaku tendency to be a tightwad means many hobbies can also be pursued on the cheap.

"I thought a woman with all these sparkling decorations stuck on her face looked really cute, so I bought some of them myself," a cross-dressing cosplayer in his 40s tells Shukan Post. "But I bought my decorations at the 100 yen discount store." (By Ryann Connell)

October 12, 2006
Column Otaku was initiated  by Naomi, Sep 18 at 12:49