Black Friday Is Almost Here!
The Inventory team is rounding up deals you don’t want to miss, now through Cyber Monday. Click here to browse!

Ripping Off Your Biggest Fans, Idol-Style

Illustration for article titled Ripping Off Your Biggest Fans, Idol-Style

Japan is expensive. Tokyo and Osaka consistently rank among the most expensive cities in the world. With the strong yen, Japan is even pricier for foreign visitors. It's no steal for nerds, either. It's highway robbery.


Geek mecca Akihabara has a bevy of maid cafes to tempt otaku with cutesy food. Popular dishes include "rice omelets" or "hot cakes", which are usually somewhere between ¥700 to ¥1,000 (US$9 to $13) at Akihabara maid cafes—well, ones staffed by dudes dressed as anime chicks. At normal restaurants, you can get a rice omelet—which is rice, eggs, and ketchup—for around ¥500 ($6.50)


Portions, of course, aren't usually as generous as they are in the States.

AKB48, Japan's most popular idol group opened a pricey, new cafe in Akihabara last week. Rice omelets cost ¥1,480 ($19)—ditto for unappetizing pasta. The menu was drawn up by the AKB48 girls, something that costs patrons a premium.

The photos of the food don't look appetizing at all!

Anyone who's been to touristy theme restaurants in the U.S. or Europe can vouch for crazy high prices. The point usually isn't the food, but the experience.

Illustration for article titled Ripping Off Your Biggest Fans, Idol-Style

(ニュースevery | NKT)

The cafe has a private room or "secret base", which is covered in doodles and signatures by AKB48 members. Fans can also doodle in a designated space on the wall. The room has AKB48 DVDs and magazines available for perusal. It costs ¥10,000 ($130) to rent the room for two hours.


In the top photo, Tomomi Itano scribbles her signature on the private room's wall.


You'd probably be better off at a regular old maid cafe. Then again, you might not be a hardcore AKB48 fan, willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for stacks of CD singles for the group's handshaking events.


Apparently, around 200 people turned up when the cafe opened its doors.

Whether it be sports or idols, otaku fans are hardcore. They obsess and love things to bits. That shouldn't be a license to fleece them. Sadly, though, it is.


Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome—game related and beyond.

(Top photo: AKB48 | アルファルファモザイク )

You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this post, at You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


I've always wanted to travel- to leave the US (or heck, even Texas) and see firsthand that there's a whole world out there. Unfortunately my parents are getting older and at this point are quite against even going downtown. Any time travel is brought up it's usually "shut up and be glad you live where you do." It's understandable though, the ONE time we've ever left the country was to go to Italy on a tour trip, and it didn't go well. Stuck at the airport on the way in and out, and we stayed in a cottage in Lucca. Never got to see Lucca, we drove to Rome each day instead. Beautiful country, but boy did I not feel welcome. We were walking to the Parthenon one morning and stopped at a gelatto place. This kid, probably ~12, turns around and starts speaking English.

"You're American, yes?"


"American hogs always eating."

Sure, mom had her fanny pack and dad sported his golf hat, but we couldn't have looked THAT stereotypical. A waitress later glared at us when she told us "we no acqua naturale". We hadn't said anything to her beforehand and she looked like we'd just boogieboarded down the Tower of Pisa on her mother's tombstone. Several fidgets and stares, it was an awkward trip. Didn't end there either, we had to make a stop in Heathrow on the way back. They had a currency converter station where we could put our euros back into USD. The person running it gave me my money, looked right at me, and said "glad those aren't pounds" like it was a threat.

So, we don't travel anymore. I want to ask though, since there's plenty of international users here- are Americans REALLY despised as much as the vocal Internet minority makes us out to be? Maybe I just didn't meet the right people, and that converter person had probably had a rough day, but still. I want to travel again, especially to New Zealand or Australia. In fact, I might even end up moving to New Zealand if this EVS job works out.

Ha, sorry, this is a bit nonsensical. I'm probably troubled over nothing, but I remember those stares. It was nice to see cloudy skies in England though. With the high pressure center over where I live it's nothing but hot clear sunny days. So yeah, travel, hopefully second time's the charm!