Many Japanese people say Japanese comics and cartoons are a big part of Japanese culture. Initial D, Dragon Ball, Yugio and Pokemon are very famous in Japan, USA, China, Korea, Euro etc. Many economists are interested in the market of Japanese cartoons. Akihabara is a very famous town in Japan for Gaijin tourist because there are many electrionics shops in Akihabara. But this information of Akihabara is old. Now Akihabara is half electronics town and half cartoon town. There are many cartoon shops in Akihabara now. But Initial D and Dragon ball are not popular in Akihabara because they are hero cartoon characters. The heroine (cute female) cartoon characters are very popular in Akihabara now. The cartoon of heroine is usually acting, a high school student, fighting bad people or bewitching etc. Maid caf idea is from the heroine of cartoon. There are many maid things. Maid caf ,maid spa, maid bar, maid glasses shop etc. You can buy DVDs, comics, cards, posters or figurine dolls in the shops in Akihabara if you like the cartoon. I saw a figurine doll of a heroine cartoon that was 5.5ft tall and price tag said $1,900 US. One of the new JDM car cultures that is becoming popular from Akihabara in Japan now is "Ita-sha". Basically, Ita-Sha used to be a short Japanese word for Italian cars. "Sha" is Kanji for "Kuruma", and "Kuruma" means cars in Japanese. "Ita-Sha" in new-school JDM is now a short word derived from "Itai-Sha", "Itai" meaning painful, so Ita-Sha now means "painful cars." The style of "Itasha" is decorating sports cars. minivans etc with character of Japanese female cartoon stickers. Why do Japanese use "painful cars" for Itasha style? Because Japanese young people say "Painful/Itai" for bad or ugly things. Examples- for bad sense in choosing clothes or bad face of your friend's girlfriend or boyfriend. Itasha style stands out anywhere because sticker is female cartoon character and very big. Many people think Itasha is geek or maniac. (LOL -SK) Japanese call "Ota-ku" for the people who like female cartoon characters and Itasha. (I think in the US we call them "perverts" - SK) But owners of Itasha are very proud of it. Itasha is a very famous culture in Japan now. You can see the Itasha cars in the parking lot of the comic market ,Akihabara, local drifting event and even Super GT race (One of the BMW cars was decorated Itasha style in 2008). I am not sure Itasha style will become popular in the USA. I know there are Japanese maid caf in LA.
Seeing is believing. Please see the pictures as I was shooting some Itasha in Odaiba, Tokyo. If you like it, customize your USDM Itasha-style and send pictures to Super Street magazine!