Otaku- AkihabaraOtaku is a general term which refers to followers of pop culture in Japan, including comics, animated cartoons, gaming, cosplay (costume play) and figurines. It is said that the term originated from a second-person pronoun “otaku” used between pop culture fans in the middle of the 1980s. At that time, otaku referred to “a person who has hobbies not understood by ordinary people” or “an unsociable person” and implied negative characteristics. However, these bad meanings began to disappear from the 1990s and the term has now come to mean “a person who has a thorough knowledge of pop culture” and has the implication of respect.

Whilst in the world there are a lot of mainstream comic books and animated cartoons with childish content, of which the main target is small children, in Japan there are many high quality stories that can be enjoyed by even adults. As high quality Japanese pieces of work are being appreciated, and the translation/dubbing of these are getting internationally widespread, the understanding of otaku has also improved abroad. Japanese pop culture is especially liked in France, and otaku is a type of status with many people even referring to themselves as otaku. Many comic and animated cartoon fairs are regularly held in Japan. Similar events are also held in France and the U.S., in which a large number of fans doing cosplay pack the events. In New Zealand, the Armageddon Expo, an otaku festival is also held annually and its scale is growing year by year.

Akihabara in Japan can be regarded as a mecca for otaku which is recognized even outside of Japan. This area, which has prospered for a long time as an electric goods specialty town, now also consists of specialty shops for animated cartoons, gaming, figurines and cosplay, and the town conducts various events for otaku. Over half of the tenants in the shopping centre are for otaku, and it has a good reputation for being a place that rare items can be purchased. Many otaku visitors come to Japan from all over the world just to visit the shopping centre.