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Cool Japanese Otaku Stuff from Japan
In Japan the word Otaku is used to refer to geeks, nerds and other obsessive types. An Otaku is usually male and aged between 20 and 35.
I guess Otaku could be taken to be quite an offensive. In Japan the term is usually used with affection. Many Japanese men have Otaku-like tendencies about one hobby or another. Come to think of it, many men are usually obsessive about something - it's all part of being a man.
Popular culture is hugely popular in Japan, so there is plenty to be obsessive about. Whether you like gadgets like cameras or iPods, anime or manga, there's plenty of things to be obsessive about in Japan.
Otaku and cute girls
Otaku love girls, even if they are too scared to speak to them!
It's common to see cute girls out promoting goods that Otaku might be interested in buying. Otaku love to buy computer peripherals, anime, manga and DVDs (especially if the DVD features cute girls!).
Most Otaku head for Akihabara - the global spiritual home of the geek. Akihabara is home to many electronics stores, but there are also an increasing number of stores selling anime, DVDs and other goods that Otaku love so much.
In Akihabara, many new product launches are held. It's usual to get a cute girl to promote a new product. This attracts potential Otaku purchasers of the product. Of course a cute girl will also be very photogenic and photos of the girl will tend to end up on websites and blogs so the product becomes self-promoting.
There are also lots of maid cafes, especially in Akihabara. This is a modern day take on the Geisha girl culture that has been popular with Japanese men for centuries. In a maid cafe a Japanese guy can go in and get served by cute girls dressed as maids. There are also other themed cafes with cute girls dressed as nuns, cat girls or various other male cosplay fantasies. Don't worry if it sounds dodgy - it's all above board. If a guy wants sexy fun in Tokyo then he simply has to head to another district, like Shinjuku.
Overseas Otaku in America and Europe
Japanese culture is fantastic, and it is a major export to the rest of the World. We started getting hooked on Japanese exports like Sony walkmans. Now we can't get enough of their games consoles, Pokemon, Hello Kitty plushies, anime and wacky gameshows. Even Japanese food is taking the world by storm - I think there are now more Japanese sushi restaurants in London than any other type of ethnic restaurant.
If you want to buy Otaku goods but you don't live in Japan then don't worry. The UK based TokyoToys exports to the rest of the World. JList is also another great online store, and have a great selection of Japanese Otaku merchandise. Amazon.com also sell an amazing array of character figures, anime and manga.
Plush Toys popular in Otaku culture
Plush toys are big business in Japan! Whenever I'm in Tokyo I love to visit one of the Pokemon stores. Yes there are stores in Japan that sell nothing but Pokemon related merchandise. Pokemon soft toys make great gifts for anyone interested in Japanese culture. There are often new Pokemon plushies released, and special limited editions released around certain times of the year such as Halloween and Christmas.
Pokemon has a serious rival in Hello Kitty! This adorable cat is hugely popular in Japan, and there are also many Hello Kitty stores in which you can buy nothing but Hello Kitty plushies and other merchandise.
My own personal favourite Japanese stuffed animal is Domo-kun. This loveable brown monster comes in a range of sizes. As well as being a popular Japanese TV character, he's also a hugely popular internet meme.
I hope you've enjoyed this tour of Japanese Otaku culture.