Japan's famous maids go mobile
Sunday 14 November 2010
For many years fixtures in the Akihabara district of Tokyo - famous around the world as the heart of "otaku," or geek, culture - flamboyantly dressed cafe maids are finally getting mobile.
The Seibu Railway Group has announced that a new train service will start in December with young women in maid costumes chatting to fellow passengers and playing games. Maids will also take it in turn to make announcements over the tannoy system, including the names of stations.
"It is no exaggeration to say that Japanese culture has grown beyond the realms of maid cafes alone," the company said on its web site. "It has been a dream to create a maid train and we will now help create happy memories for everybody on the train.
"We look forward to meeting everybody on this ride."
The world's first maid train will be a regular New Red Arrow service that will operate between Ikebukuro Station, in north-east Tokyo, and Chichibu.
Seibu Railways chose to operate the train on that stretch of its network because a number of animation studios have offices in the area and the intention is to promote Japanese pop culture.
Companies involved in the project also plan to open a photography studio at Seibu Chichibu Station where customers can pay to have their photos taken with maids.
The Japanese government is also keen to make the most of "soft culture" and is actively encouraging the industry to export products such as manga, animated characters, movies, television programmes and fashion overseas.
Dates: From 11-12-2010.
Price: Y3,500 (€30.91) and Y3,000 (€26.50) for children
Further information (in Japanese): http://maidtrain.info
Tel. +81 4 2929 3719.
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