Akihabara, a district in Tokyo, is known for being the home to everything manga, japanime and electronic. This is a place where you can shop all kinds of merch related to your favorite Japanese graphic novels and stop on your way out at a stand to buy some sweet LED lights to illuminate the computer lair you occupy in your mom’s basement.
As much of a geek as I claim to be, I cannot compete with the peeps hanging around Akihabara. Plenty of great people-watching is to be done here.
I am not big into the manga or the japanime but after a friend on Facebook posted pics of a nail salon here that specializes in japanime nail art, I knew I wanted to try it out. Apparently the trend is called ‘ita ___’, in this case ita-nail because ita means pain and it’s painfully embarrassing to like something so nerdy. meh. Check out more about the nail salon and other “painful” things Akihabara is known for here.
I went with the classic Sailor Moon nails because: when in Tokyo….It took around two hours to do my nails and at 1,000 yen ($9 USD) for every 10 minutes it was pricey. I didn’t have time to get a full set of acrylic nails but my nail tech, Rika, gave me an estimate of $300 USD to get a long set of acrylic nails. And that price involves only two nails actually having a character hand drawn onto them. The price goes up the more intricate the design. EEK!
If you’re not into nail art, this area has a lot of cool things here, including capsule toy shops and cosplay costume shops with anything your dress up-loving self may desire. Looking to build your own custom computer or a japanese nintendo? This is the place to go.
But much like other areas of Tokyo, Akihabara has a few weird things, too. One of those being “maid cafes.”
Akihabara is awash with maid cafes. They’re just as sexist and degrading as you might imagine. In these cafes, girls dressed like maids serve food or drink in their tiny maid costumes and even address the clientele as their masters.
Sure you might say, “What’s wrong with being treated like a king/queen?” I suppose there is nothing wrong with it if you’re into that sort of thing. Initially, I, too, had been intrigued by the concept. The interest was enough to actually move me to agree to visit one of these establishments. I lost my interest over lunch one day, a few months ago. The first thing I noticed was the clientele was mostly crusty, old men.
The second thing: the lackluster (and expensive) menu. I ordered some bland-ass slider and a fresh ginger ale then was scolded for daring to take a photograph of my drink despite a sign that said “photographs are discouraged” but NOT forbidden.
I don’t know about you, but if I ever hire a maid, she’s going to be nice to me and serve better food. The experience was boring and the maids were closer to being the grumpy, resentful maids i remember from the spanish soap operas I watched growing up than they were to being the fun Amelia-Bedelia-types.
Vice did an interesting report on the shady goings-on in the Akihabara underground if you want to know more go here.
Pics of my outing (AND my nail art) below (click for more detail):