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Akihabara: escapism, modernity, maid cafe ladies and raw energy

Akihabara: escapism, modernity, maid cafe ladies and raw energy

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tokyo is a very dynamic city and each district is special for various factors and the natural ambience changes quickly.  In Akihabara the distinctive nature of this place is because of the latest high tech gadgets on sale and if you want to buy the latest electronic models then you have come to the right place.  However, Akihabara is not just about electronic goods it is also famous for maid café bars, anime and a place where otaku can buy countless goods which are in demand.

Akihabara is a place which either suits you greatly or it isn’t your cup of tea and this is because of the nature of this part of Tokyo.  In Harajuku you have the vibrancy of youth and changing fashion styles. If you walk along the main street which connects you with Omotesando, then it is clear that you are in fashion paradise.  Not only this, you have the stunning Meiji shrine in the same environment near Harajuku train station and the ambient buzz of Omotesando Hills. Therefore, this area is a fantastic fusion of fashion, culture, and history.

However, in Akihabara this place really connects with people who suit what this place provides.  Therefore, Akihabara may not have the sophistication of Harajuku but if you want to visit an area which is buzzing because of commerce and escapism then Akihabara caters for you.

Maid café bars have spread from Akihabara to countless other nations and this is an increasing pulling power alongside anime and otaku goods.  This in itself means that surrealism and realism blends together like the fusion of life and this all adds to the uniqueness of Akihabara.   

It matters not if Akihabara is not your classical part of Tokyo because this place is internationally famous in its own right and with the booming nature of maid café bars then you feel like you have entered into another world. 

All major cities in the world have places of high fashion and independent fashion but in most major European cities you don’t have anything like Akihabara.  Therefore, this place is a magnet for tourists based on the latest electronic gadgets, anime, otaku culture, maid café bars and in the back streets you can also find old gadgets and computer games. This means that if you love searching around for hidden old computer games then Akihabara is a gem of a place to visit because it caters for old school individuals.

In another article I wrote about Akihabara I stated that “…the electronic beauty of Akihabara is that it is not only famous for newly developed electronic goods which have just entered the market but it is also a place where the old world of electronic goods can be found.  If you are nostalgic and see the world in pixels or you dream about the first videogame which got you fascinated by this new world. Then Akihabara also provides ample opportunities to search around and find your hidden childhood.”

“The Tokyo Anime Center is another added attraction which is located in Akihabara.  Although the building is not huge it is certainly welcoming and you can obtain information in Chinese, English, and Korean, and of course in the native language.”

“In the past Akihabara was staunchly known for being famous for electrical goods but the growth of anime and maid café is changing all this and now all are part and parcel of Akihabara and this fusion makes the visit even more intriguing and distinctive.”

“Therefore, the world of Dragon Ball, Evangelion, Mazinger Z, Ultra Man, and for me, Ghost in the Shell, opens up and the rich culture of Nara seems like a different planet. In truth, this is the beauty of Japan because it offers many worlds and environments within the same nation and clearly Tokyo is a city where you can find ample diversity and the same can be said about Osaka.”

This means that Akihabara is a gaming and anime heaven and for people who are fascinated by both then locals and tourists alike will certainly love the environment of Akihabara.

Maid café bars also attract many people and this image for tourists is now very potent and it should not be underestimated irrespective of your thinking.  After all, many nations have borrowed from Akihabara and this helps to keep the place fresh and open to new changes.

It is true that in Osaka you will find maid café bars and you have a few in Shinjuku but it appears much more natural in Akihabara because of the environment.  However, you also have a distinctive feel in Osaka because the culture in this city is very different from Tokyo and this applies to the energy level and places like Namba and Umeda are very dynamic.

Ladies involved in working in the maid café bar sector do dress sexily in a cute way and they look very appealing and with a special charm.  However, just like the world of anime it is an illusion and you don’t have sexual overtones in proper maid café bars.

It could be said that maid café ladies are the modern version of the old geisha in Japan but based on different concepts and with much more innocence. Therefore, while traditional geisha was based on a more subtle, placid and gentle role this can’t be said completely for maid café ladies. After all, while the piety part will apply via language it is clear that maid café ladies are more commercial and the bond between client and staff will also be different and clearly environmental factors and time are a million miles away.

Overall, it is easy to understand the appeal of Akihabara and this part of Tokyo ticks to a different beat but the beat continues to pulsate and attract vast numbers of people.

http://akihabara-tour.com/

http://www.e-akihabara.jp/en/index.htm

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com  

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Japan

 

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Osaka: Namba is great for fashion, entertainment and a real energy exists

Osaka: Namba is great for fashion, entertainment and a real energy exists

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The city of Osaka is very vibrant and in Namba you can feel the energy because this part of Osaka is famous for fashion and entertainment.  Indeed, while Tokyo appears to be more refined and placid the natural energy of Namba, Umeda, and other areas, is a welcome change and both Tokyo and Osaka have a different feel about them.

Recently, Kanebo cosmetic company highlighted the fact that Tokyo ladies use more make up than any other major city in Asia.  However, Kanebo, which did the survey, picked two cities in China but amazingly they only picked one city in Japan and this applies to Tokyo. 

I am sure that Osaka ladies would have something to say about this because if Kanebo can pick Beijing and Shanghai; then why not include Osaka?  After all, Osaka is a very powerful city and the energy and different thought patterns in this city would have complimented the survey by Kanebo cosmetic company.

If you visit Namba you will note how fashionable the ladies are and how vibrant this part of Osaka is.  Namba also changes throughout the day and it is vibrant for 24 hours of the day.

This applies to fashion, entertainment, abundance of restaurants, and you also have a sexual side to Namba in the Dotonbori area at night.  Therefore, Namba is very diverse and changes quickly.

Also, during the day you will see many students outside who are practicing comedy and you can watch and listen to this unique style.  This comedy style is called manzai and Yoshimotokougyo School is famous for this style of comedy.

Namba ladies have their own distinct fashion and style which not only applies to the dress style, but also the different thought pattern and energy which is often missing in parts of Tokyo.

In Namba you have the trendy and fashionable Amerikamura and Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade.  Electronic areas and manga can also be found and Nipponbashi Den Den Town is popular.  Meanwhile, the Dotonbori district is famous for entertainment and the innocence and vibrancy of manzai can be felt alongside trendy fashion areas and the seedier nature at night in parts of Namba.

The waterway system is also a nice place to relax and sit out and you will see many tourist boats on busy days.  This also adds to the genuine buzz of Namba in Osaka and even if you are by yourself then it matters not because if you visit the waterway, where students are practicing manzai, then you feel part and parcel of the environment.

The Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade and adjacent area surrounding this shopping complex is awash with fashion.  True to the nature of Namba, it is also a fusion of trendy boutiques with an independent spirit alongside chain retail stores.

Fashion in this area is really fascinating because of the options which are available.  Therefore, you have the high fashion of expensive department stores and influential designer labels and trendy boutiques.

However, you also have alternative fashion styles and if you venture around then it becomes clear that this area caters for many fashion styles.

In Amerikamura you have a reported 3,000 shops to pick from and the choice is massive and varied.  The youthful nature and buzz of this part of Osaka can be felt and domestic boutiques like Urban Research, Ships, Anna Sui, Stussy, and countless others, can be found in this vibrant fashion area which rivals anything in Tokyo.

In truth, both Tokyo and Osaka are major fashion cities and while Osaka may be overlooked internationally in some quarters; it soon becomes apparent when you visit Osaka that this is a mistake because the “heart of Japan is ticking loudly in Osaka.”

Other notable places to visit are Namba Parks, National Bunraku Theater, Hozenji Yokocho Alley, Kuromon Ichiba Market (Emmeiji Market) and Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum. Also, Dotonbori is clearly a must because of the high energy of this area along the river and this applies to shopping, entertainment and food outlets.

Dotonbori at night and in the early morning is awash with stunning ladies and a different Namba comes alive.

Overall, Namba is fantastic for fashion and raw energy.

This applies to the diverse nature of fashion, the manzai tradition which can be witnessed outside near the waterway system, the lively nature of the Dotonbori entertainment district and you have everything from independent boutiques to high designer labels.

Namba, like Osaka in general, is a vibrant area and “the heart is ticking loudly” and you can feel the raw passion of a city which is dynamic in its own right.

Tokyo and other major cities in Asia, like Beijing, Seoul and Shanghai, may be internationally famous but Osaka is not in the shadow of any of these cities.  On the contrary, Osaka is vibrant and open and this city deserves to be viewed amongst the elites within the global village.

http://www.infomapjapan.com/sight_Namba.phtml  (Info about Namba)

http://www.japaneselifestyle.com.au/travel/osaka_namba.htm

http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/search/detail/shopping_5160.html (Namba Walk info)

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

photo from www.flickr.com

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Japan

 

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Smacky Glam in Ikebukuro: elegant fashion, creative and stunning colors

Smacky Glam in Ikebukuro: elegant fashion, creative and stunning colors

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

http://www.smackyglam.com – image from Smacky Glam

Ikebukuro a few years ago appeared to be sleeping on the west side but in the last six months it is clear that fashion is springing up in abundance.  This applies to Lumine where you have so many high quality boutiques which compliment the stunning décor.

Also, in Ikebukuro on the west side you have an abundance of new shops near the Fukutoshin train station and with so many universities based in or around Ikebukuro then you have a strong youthful outlook.

At the same time traditional companies like Tobu Store and Seibu Department Store adds to the ambience and quality of Ikebukuro.

Turning back to Lumine it is abundantly clear that you will find an abundance of high quality fashion stores and alongside this you will have other types of companies which cater for the finer things in life.

One exceptional store which takes the eye immediately is Smacky Glam because the fashion is graceful, creative, ultra-modern, and the fabrics are high class. 

Smacky Glam – Modern Tokyo Times image

Added to this is the stunning and vibrant colors on offer and female fashion not only comes alive, it even appeals to lay people because Smacky Glam is based on a fabulous back drop.

The high quality fabric, adorable color collections, quality fashion, and exquisite décor all adds to an amazing shopping experience where space and fashion is fused to create an atmosphere of ambience amidst exquisite fashion.

Ikebukuro is a gateway for people who reside in Saitama and Lumine is a gateway for fashion. Also, within Lumine you have companies with panache, style, grace, and quality; and these words of high esteem certainly applies to Smacky Glam.

Tokyoites, tourists, business ladies passing through Tokyo and people from Saitama and further afield who pass through Ikebukuro; must visit Lumine and grasp the fashion on offer and the same applies to visiting companies like Smacky Glam.

Ikebukuro is waking up once more and companies like Smacky Glam are putting this city on the map for fashion in Tokyo.

If you have the opportunity to visit Ikebukuro then take time out and visit the bountiful boutiques on offer on the west side of Ikebukuro which are based within the train station.

For a special treat, then a visit to Smacky Glam is a must!

www.smackyglam.com –  Smacky Glam

http://sanyo-i.jp   –  Sanyo i Store (Sanyo Shokai Ltd)

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please   visit)

 
 
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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Japan

 

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Reni Mimura: Japanese cosplay in New York

Reni Mimura: Japanese cosplay in New York

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Reni Mimura was born in Japan and since an early age dancing was a way of life for her.  In Tokyo, and other big cities like Osaka, cosplay began to take off and this is where Reni Mimura found her niche or indeed “found herself.”

In 2008 Reni Mimura decided to relocate to New York in America and clearly the choice was a wise one because internationally the cosplay culture is finding a place within many nations. 

The fusion of cosplay, animation, moe, and elements of the otaku culture, is fascinating many people and different performing artists will be focused on areas within these complimentary aspects of modern Japanese culture.

In a world where violence is often the norm through the images of the media and where certain music scenes are focused on power, strength, and masculine images; moe artists and cosplay is a million miles away and the gentle nature and dream world co-exists within this scene. 

Reni Mimura certainly blends in with the “cute look” of “kawaii (cute) culture and given the power of animation in Japan then this fusion alongside cosplay appears to be natural.  Not only this, it is abundantly clear that kawaii culture is marketable and it generates vast economic profits.

From the 1970s onwards the kawaii image became potent and Hello Kitty had a mass appeal in Japan.  Seiko Matsuda was also instrumental in the image of “innocence of young girls” and the fashion it generated.

Reni Mimura therefore entered a world which had become fashionable in places like Akihabara in Tokyo and kawaii culture and market forces were also well known.  Added to the images of animation, which expresses big eyes and other distinguishing features; then the way was clear for a talented individual like Reni Mimura to take this across to America and the international community.

Reni Mimura released her initial CD in 2006 and once she decided to relocate to America in 2008 then the picture became more global.  Also, by being based in New York then the powerful forces of Tokyo and New York were bound to help such a talented individual who appears to have a clear direction and dream.

Her book, “Maid in NY” was a clever title because the maids of Akihabara in Tokyo are famous and the name New York sells because of the cultural power of this city.

Reni Mimura stated that “Sometimes I like to be a Japanese office lady by wearing a suite with my hair up. Wearing chequered pants with handcuffs and chains makes a girl with Rock style. Wearing a light pink dress with a frill makes Reni Lolita style. Every day I would like to be different. Cosplay is my life!”

Onstage it is clear that her fans appreciate her enormous energy and this applies to her dancing style, movement, natural interaction, and a voice to match all these fine qualities.

Reni Mimura also stated Cosplay can transform you into a different personality. For example, if you are shy, it can help you speak to others more easily. We can have a lot of fun with it and make people happy at the same time. I think this is a very futuristic thing to do. It’s like a game!”

It is clear that this lady is taking aspects of Akihabara culture to New York and to a wider international audience.  Her image is also good for Japan because Japan’s “soft power” and modern cultural is now spreading to regional nations like China and South Korea, and throughout the world.

www.renireni.com/

http://www.j-popworld.com/Interviews/Reni_Mimura.php

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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