Otaku scene in Akihabara

Origin of Otaku Culture

Otaku is a term that was derived from the Japanese word that refers to another house or another family. It can also be used as a second-person pronoun that depicts some level of honor.

However, in modern Japanese slang otaku refers to a fan or an individual who is specialized in a particular topic, theme or hobby such as anime otaku, manga otaku, pasokon otaku and many others.

Internationally, otaku is used in specifically referring to any type of geek, however, it could also refer to anime fans or manga fans. The term otaku is also associated to those who are obsessed with Japan as well as its culture.

When we say otaku culture today, though, the Akihabara district in Tokyo, Japan usually comes to mind. This is the center of otaku culture that includes manga, anime, along with "mild cafes". Here are a couple of the most recent developments that have taken place in this district which continues to spread the otaku culture out into the rest of the world.

Akihabara was previously known to be dominated by wholesalers, but after World War II, the black market thrived, particularly those shops that handled electrical components. It was from these shops that Akihabara transformed into a hub for household and electronic appliances. It is now known as a place where individuals who have a passion for electronics can be found en mass, including computer geeks, radio operators and audiophiles, as they are certain to find whatever they’re looking for.

However, recently, there have been a lot of other shops which have arisen that cater to the needs of otaku. These shops would include those outlets which handle anime character merchandise and manga fan fiction. Aside from these, there are also maid cafes all over the district, where the waitresses are in maid costumes similar to the ones that are featured in manga. This further cemented the reputation of the Akihabara district for quirky pop culture. The district has subsequently been identified as the hub for otaku culture, a culture which has already spread from Tokyo to many other areas throughout the world.

There are also numerous themed cafes which flourish in Akihabara. These are similar to the maid cafes, but allow and encourage visitors to enjoy kosupure or costume play just like the waitresses in maid costumes. The waitresses even address customers as "master". For an extra fee, customers could even have the maid/waitress sing them a song. There are other shops as well that allow role-playing like this which enable otaku to have the ability to imitate the manga and anime characters that they adore.