Thursday, April 27, 2006


My friend J.P. and I went out to Akihabara on Sunday for an increasingly rare day of geekness. Both of us made crochety grumblings about how the place has changed from when we got here eight years ago. Then, it was a dense collection of backstreet shops you searched for cheap pc parts to build your new machine with. You'd spend all afternoon pushing through crowds of intense Japanese computer geeks, and not see a single female. I think most girls were afraid of the place, since they'd just find several thousand Japanese tech geeks' eyes on them constantly.

It's different now. The computer stuff is still there, but they've stirred in anime, comics, games, airsoft, and other geeky hobbies in there. There's also a lot of cosplay going on, with all the maid cafes opening up. Yes, maid cafes. There are a lot of them. The gothic-lolita maid outfit is practically the official uniform of Akiba now.

On Sundays they close off the main street so it's easier for pedestrians. We were wandering, not really looking for anything in particular, when we saw this huge mob of people. (Camera phone photos, so they're a bit pixelly.) Everyone had their cameras out, or camera-phones, holding them up to get a shot over the heads of everyone else.

There are a lot of girls in costume in Akiba now, handing out flyers to get people to the newest maid cafe or other store. But even so, this size of a crowd around one was impressive. We pushed in and got a look.

It was this girl. There was actually another girl as well, but I couldn't get a look at her at the time. We got this photo 45 minutes later after the original crowd broke up and she resurfaced elsewhere. She was giving out flyers not for a cosplay cafe or anything like that, but a modelling service. You hire her, she dresses up as you choose, and you get to take photos of her. Yeah. Don't ask me for details, I did not ask.

A bit later we spotted this girl. I immediately noticed the trump symbols on the frill of her dress and wondered excitedly if it might be a poker-themed cosplay cafe. It would be heaven! J.P. crushed my little dream by saying, "Ah, that's cute, an Alice In Wonderland costume!" Blue and white dress, suits of cards... ah. Yeah. I guess that would be more likely.

A shame, though, because I would have been a regular customer.

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