Why the drastic increase in the number of concept cafes in Akihabara? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why the drastic increase in the number of concept cafes in Akihabara?

In-Depth Report

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Akihabara at the beginning of the year. Even the Covid-19 disaster has a lot of traffic. A large sign for a maid cafe hangs on the corner of the intersection.

On a certain day in January 2010, Akihabara, the holy land of otaku, was in the twilight, and even though it was the Covid-19 disaster, there were about 60 women in cosplay standing on the streets a few meters apart.

They were dressed as high school girls, ninjas, and military uniforms, handing out flyers advertising their stores. They wore cat ear headband, wore thick coats over their maid uniforms, and smiled while holding panels with the store name written on them. It was a familiar sight.

According to the regulations, each store is allowed to have two clerks standing in front of the store or handing out leaflets to customers.

It was 18-year-old Miki (pseudonym) who approached me as I walked down the street. She was wearing a mini-skirt and a bench coat under the cold weather, but she was not in front of the store. She was not in front of the store. Touting, such as calling out to someone at a distance and leading them to the store, is illegal.

“How about Kon Cafe?

I asked her if touting was illegal. When I asked her if touting was illegal, she said, “The manager said it was okay. The manager says it’s okay. So let’s have a drink together, brother.

When I talked to Miki, I found out that she was into men’s underground idols as well as regular customers of host clubs and chasers of Japanese celebrities. While she was making a living paying tribute to them, she was fired from her part-time job at an izakaya in the aftermath of the prolonged new Covid virus. Unemployed, she became a con-cafe girl a few months ago, attracted by the high income.

Here, I would like to mention a little about the maid business in Akihabara.

Maid cafes first appeared in this area around 2001. In the beginning, they were just pure coffee shops where girls in cosplay served drinks, but around 2010, they turned into a JK business where the main focus was on providing intense customer service such as reflexology and strolling. It became a hotbed of prostitution for girls and reached its peak around 2005.

There are always flaws in ordinances and laws. There is no end to the number of people who take advantage of these small gaps. As is often said, history does indeed repeat itself. The JK business, which had lain dormant for a while, has recently made a comeback in Akihabara as “kon café.

It is here that the illegal activities that are now rampant have their roots.

Like a patient and a nurse, the customers enjoy the image of the girl while drinking alcohol and other drinks under various concepts. The name is “café,” but the main drink is alcohol, and the reality is a bar. The owner of a certain café tells us about his business.

A girl’s bar has to pay 3,000 yen an hour to attract girls, but at Kon Cafe, we get a rush of applications even for 150 yen. But at Kon Cafe, we get a flood of applications even for 150 yen an hour. The store is as small as a snack bar. If you can open a bottle of champagne or other high quality drinks, you can expect to make as much money as at a cabaret club, and for the girls working there, it’s less intimidating than at a cabaret club.

The number of touts in Akihabara began to increase around the time of the Covid-19 disaster last winter.

As the number of foreign tourists plummeted due to the Covid-19 disaster, game and anime-related stores withdrew. One after another, concafes opened their doors. This was unthinkable in Akiba, which had become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan and was booming.

A business owner mentioned above said, “Taking advantage of this opportunity, vendors from Shibuya and Ikebukuro have moved into the area.

According to an investigator with jurisdiction over Akihabara, the number of nightclubs in Akihabara increased drastically from 170 in 2007 to more than 270 in 2008, despite the fact that nightclubs in many parts of the country are suffering from exhaustion. Existing stores that have seen their sales decline have also tried to increase their profits, which has led to an increase in aggressive touting.

In these days when the number of vacant stores is so high, other areas can be rented at lower prices than normal. Why do they choose Akiba?

Because there are no hidden fees,” he said.

The Manseibashi Police Station, which has jurisdiction over the Akihabara area, is said to be a training ground for elite police officers who will eventually go on to the main police station. The Manseibashi Police Station, which has jurisdiction over the Akihabara area, is said to be a training ground for elite police officers who will eventually go on to the main office.

Of course, this is not the case with all stores, but the fact that the yakuza are not allowed to spread their wings makes it easy for ordinary businesses that are not regulated by the law to get involved. They repeatedly engage in illegal activities and make a lot of money. If it is profitable, some people are willing to copy them. Last year, the police received about 350 complaints about touts in Akihabara.

In one of the stores that was busted, although it was a girls’ bar, the cast members were repeatedly receiving drinks from customers, toasting them and drinking with them, just like in a cabaret club. The police did not take kindly to this kind of situation, not to mention the deterioration of the city’s security and disturbance of public morals caused by touting.

Like the five stores that were busted, other concafes operating in the form of girls bars were instructed to obtain a permit under the Entertainment Establishments Control Law. However, many of them still continue to operate under the guise of cafes without obtaining a permit. Why is this?

Most of the owners of the buildings where the cafes are located are former electronics stores and other local residents, and they won’t rent to water businesses.

You can’t be a water business in name or in reality. Even if they get a permit, they will be prohibited from distributing leaflets, which is the key to attracting customers, and other negative effects will occur. So, is there no choice but to go ahead with it?

It’s time to get serious.

While the investigators are breathing hard, newcomers have joined the ranks, and the racketeering continues, with a view to being exposed. The battle between them and the authorities has only just begun.

A man is seen being led into a store by a maid with cat ears. In many cases, the customers do not know that touting is illegal.
Female shopkeepers touting their wares. Many of their stores are located far away from each other, and they gather in busy areas from each store.

From the February 11, 2022 issue of FRIDAY.

  • Reporting and writing by Mizuho Takagi

    Nonfiction writer

  • PHOTO Shinji Hamasaki

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