The Akiba Blood Donation Room in the heart - sorry - of Tokyo's geek mecca Akihabara has found a unique method of boosting blood donations: Stock up on manga mags, then stick in the needle.
Times are tough in Japan these days and giving blood is likely the last thing on cautious consumers' minds. How then has the Akiba Blood Donation Room managed to increase donations by 50% over the past three years? Simple: give geeks something to read while they return the favor by giving some red.
The center, officially supervised by the Japanese Red Cross Society, first made a name for itself by asking female staff at a nearby salon to dress up as maids and give free hand massages to donors. To Japan's geeks, known as otaku, the maids' siren call proved impossible to resist.
Once the room's profile was raised, the center said goodbye to the lovely ladies and instead stocked its shelves with 800 manga (comic) magazines. Otaku, not the wealthiest sector of society by any means, took the bait and continue to make the Akiba Blood Donation Room a popular hangout, even on Saturdays. Not surprisingly, about 85% of the blood donors are male compared to the usual 3:2 male-female ratio at other blood donation centers.
"I give blood while having fun in the district," says 35-year-old Misao Toki. "I'm not very good at interacting with people, but by donating blood, I can do something good for society without having to deal with other people." (via Daily Yomiuri Online, maid image via Pink Tentacle)