Tag Archives: 秋葉原

Maid Train

8 Nov

Have you ever heard of Tokyo’s “Maid Cafes“?
These cafes, mostly located in the Otaku (geek) paradise of the 秋葉原 (Akihabara) section of Tokyo, are staffed by young women dressed in “French maid” outfits who greet the customers by saying 「お帰りなさいませご主人様」 (“Welcome home, master”).
They also draw cute pictures on the food with ketchup and play games with the customers.

Some people say that Japan’s bar-hostesses and cafe maids are both a kind of modern-day geisha.
Maybe it’s an “only-in Japan phenomenon”, but hostesses, cafe maids, and geisha all have in common that their purpose is to entertain customers (usually male) in certain eating and drinking establishments…but, contrary to a popular belief in Western countries, they have nothing to do with prostitution.

Well, the financially struggling Seibu Train Line that connects 埼玉県 (Saitama Prefecture) to 東京都 (Tokyo) has decided to try and take advantage of the popularity of maid cafes to attract more passengers to use their trains.

Beginning 2010 December 11, they will have a limited number of  「メイド・トレイン」 (“Maid Trains“).

These trains will be staffed by “maids” similar to the ones in maid cafes who will serve food and drinks and they will also make all of the train’s announcements.
Passengers will also have a chance to pay to have their photo taken with the maids (the same service is available at maid cafes).

Personally I have never been to a maid cafe. And I have no plans to ride the “maid train” either.
How about you? Have you ever visited one of Japan’s maid cafes? Or would you like to?
Would you ride the maid train?

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News Summary…2010 January

29 Jan

★ The murder trial for the man who killed and injured a crowd of people in the June 2008 “Akihabara Attack” began today.

He entered in a “guilty” plea and apologized for his crimes in court today. Admitting guilt and showing remorse often helps defendants in their trials in Japan.

The likely verdicts in this case will either be the death sentence (which is done by hanging in Japan) or a life sentence.

Please click here to read my post from last summer about the one-year anniversary of this attack.

★ The iconic Seibu Department Store will close their large store in 有楽町 (Yurakucho, Tokyo) near 銀座 (Ginza, Tokyo) on 2010 December 25th.

This store has been a landmark in Tokyo since it opened in 1984.
But due to the bad economic times recently, not enough people have been shopping there these days for the Seibu group to afford the rent in Ginza.

The plot of land that this store’s building is on is the most expensive real estate in the world!
The Seibu Department Store pays ¥1 million (about US$10,000) in rent for this spot.

Anniversaries

8 Jun

Today and tomorrow are the anniversaries of a few events in Japan.

One is happy and two are tragic. The bad ones are first. 😦

  • Today (2009 June 8 ) is the one-year anniversary of the shocking 秋葉原通り魔事件 (Akihabara attack).
    One year ago today, a 26 year old man drove his truck into a crowd of people in busy 秋葉原 (Akihabara, Tokyo) and then he got out of his truck and stabbed people with a knife.

    A number of people were killed or seriously injured by him. He is currently in prison on murder and attempted murder charges.

  • Today is also the anniversary of another tragic event in Japan.
    Eight years ago today, on 2001 June 8, was the 「附属池田小事件」 (Osaka School Massacre).
    A man in 大阪 (Osaka, Japan) went into an 小学校 (elementary school) and stabbed children at random.

    He killed eight children and injured fifteen.

    He was convicted of the crimes and executed five years ago.

  • Tomorrow (2009 June 9) is the sixteenth wedding anniversary of the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan.

    On 1993 June 9, 浩宮様 (Honorable Hironomiya*) married a commoner named 小和田雅子 (Masako Owada**), who was a diplomat who graduated from Harvard University.

    (* Overseas, the Japanese prince is often called by his birth name (Naruhito), but in Japan, he is only refered to by the respectful 「浩宮様」 (Honorable Hironomiya).)
    (** 小和田雅子 (Masako Owada) is now refered to as 雅子様 (Princess Masako).)

I came to Japan in 1990, so I was in Japan for all of these events and I remember them all well.

Akihabara

8 Mar

秋葉原 (Akihabara) is the largest electronic district in Tokyo. And one of the, if not the, largest electronic districts in the entire world!

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I have heard that originally 秋葉原 (Akihabara) was called Akibahara (which would actually be a more accurate reading of the town’s name 「秋葉原」), so people who frequent the area often call it 「アキバ」 (Akiba), as a nickname.

Anyways, my kids went out with my inlaws today, so my wife and I went to 秋葉原 (Akihabara) because we’re considering buying a ケータイ電話 (cell-phone) for our oldest daughter.

All three of my kids want a ケータイ電話 (cell-phone)…but for a number reasons, we’ve decided against it until they’re in high-school. Once they begin high-school, they’ll take a train to school everyday…so we think a ケータイ電話 (cell-phone) might be necessary.

My oldest daughter will begin high-school (equivalent to 10th grade in the U.S.) next month…so we may give her a ケータイ電話 (cell-phone). I’m over-protective of my kids…so I’m not sure yet. I have to decide.

But if you want to buy electronics, manga, anime…or any other otaku (geek) culture (including a visit to a “maid cafe“)…then you should visit 秋葉原 (Akihabara).

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Here are a couple videos I took too:

Akihabara

6 Oct

Last year and this year, I have been on the PTA of my daughter’s school.

My wife was on the PTA every year since our kids were in 保育園 (Nursery School)…quite a few years.
So I decided it was my turn.

As most fathers do, I have to work full-time so all that is usually expected of the fathers on PTA is to help set up for the festivals and events the school might have, and clean up afterwards.
Occasionally, we have meetings and sometimes gatherings at an 居酒屋 (Japanese pub/restaurant).

But on Saturday, there was a meeting with dinner (刺身 (Sashimi)) and drinks for the PTA for all the schools in our vicinity. A couple of weeks ago the PTA president asked me to give a speech at this meeting.

I wrote a short speech (in 日本語 (Japanese), of course) and had been practicing it everyday.
I was so nervous on Saturday before I gave the speech…but I think I did a pretty good job. (But I hate speeches, and I hope I never have to do that again! 🙂 )

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Yesterday was our town’s 運動会 (Sports Day event). My youngest daughter played the trombone in the event’s opening ceremony (as she did for her school’s 運動会 (Sports Day event) last week).
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After my daughter finished with the town 運動会 (Sports Day event), my three kids went to my in-laws’ house for dinner…so my wife and I went to 秋葉原 (Akihabara).

Have you ever heard of 秋葉原 (Akihabara)? Have you ever been there?

It has an interesting name. If you can read Japanese, you know 秋葉原 (Akihabara) translates to “Autumn leaves field“.
Also it technically should be read “Akibahara” (the b and h transposed)….that’s why the town has the nickname “Akiba” (it used to be that only dorks would call the town “Akiba”…but it’s become a common nickname).

Part of 秋葉原 (Akihabara) is called 「電気街 (“Electric Town“) because of all the electric and electronics stores in that area.
And that is what 秋葉原 (Akihabara) is famous for…being one of the biggest electronics shopping areas in the world.

It used to be that only オタク (fanatics; nerds) and those who needed to be there were found in 秋葉原 (Akihabara). All of the shops there, back then, were small and only the オタク (fanatics; nerds) really knew where the good deals were.

But two things changed 秋葉原 (Akihabara) a bit. One was a TV drama that was popular in Japan a few years ago in which the hero was an オタク (nerd) who hung out in 秋葉原 (Akihabara).
The other was the fairly recent opening of the “Yodobashi Camera” superstore near 秋葉原駅 (Akihabara Train Station).

Yodobashi Camera” is big, popular chain of electronics stores that are in many locations around Japan. When this store finally opened their 秋葉原 (Akihabara) branch (which is surprising that they didn’t have one there before), alot more non-オタク (fanatics; nerds) starting going to 秋葉原 (Akihabara).

We went to the “Yodobashi Camera” there to look at TVs. I bought our current Sony® TV years ago and it’s about ready to be replaced.

We didn’t buy a new TV, we just checked out what’s available and the prices.

Here’s something I saw that used to be a much more common sight in Japan:

There’s an old wives’ tale in Japan that says if you put plastic bottles of water around your property it will keep stray cats away. These bottles are called 猫よけ (Scare-cat).
Supposedly, the cats see their reflection in the water and think it’s another cat and run away.

Anyways, I saw those 猫よけ (Scare-cat) bottles and took a photo because it’s one of those only-in-Japan things.

Here’s a picture I took of 秋葉原 (Akihabara):

And a few videos:

Afterwards, we went to a small restaurant for dinner.

Many times in these types of restaurants in Japan, they’ll have a ticket vending machine at the front of the shop. You’re meant to buy the ticket for the food and beer (the drink menu at these places often consists of beer or water), and give the ticket to the cook behind the counter.

He’ll call you to pick up your order from the counter when it’s ready.

Here’s the ticket machine at the place where we ate:

This restaurant had old, retro Japanese “Asahi Beer” posters hanging on the wall (today’s beer ad posters usually have girls in bikinis).

This one is read top to bottom. It says 「アサヒビール」 (Asahi Beer):

This one also says 「アサヒビール」 (Asahi Beer)…but it’s written right to left. Writing this way isn’t as common in Japan as it used to be, so at first glance, I read 「ルービヒサア」 (Ruby Hisaa) (which doesn’t make any sense):

Stabbing spree

10 Jun

Yesterday morning (Monday) on the news, they said that on Sunday, a 25 year old man drove a rental truck into a pedestrian-only street in the 秋葉原 (Akihabara electronics district) section of Tokyo to purposely hit people who were walking on the street.

Then he stopped the truck, got out and stabbed seventeen random people, killing 7 of them!

The police caught him and he told them that he was abused by his father during his childhood and he was sick of the world and wanted to kill people…any people.

It’s a tragedy and, luckily, not something that happens often in Japan…although the crime rate has gone up in recent years. But Japan is still one of (if not the) safest countries in the world.

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On a different note…the rainy season has begun in Japan about a week ago.

It’s been raining alot…but today was especially bad! It started out a warm, slightly overcast day and it rained a little bit on and off throughout the day. Just light sprinkling, though.

But then, at about 5:00PM, it started to rain really hard with thunder and lightning!