Japan's First Maid Taxi Service Disabled by Cosplayers

The Maid Taxi was a clever concept - until hordes of "Otaku" descended upon the service, displacing those genuinely disabled the Maid Taxi's were designed to serve.

For disabled people in Japan dependent upon caregivers, it must have seemed like a dream come true. Just imagine if you will, a small fleet of wheelchair-accessible minivans decked out in luxury appointments available to pick you up and take you wherever you want to go. Oh, did I mention, the vans were piloted by comely young ladies dressed as French maids?

You'd be forgiven for thinking the Maid Taxi was dreamed up by Hugh Hefner as a way to get around town in his old age - sort of a flightless Playboy jet - but no... it was actually conceived by a Japanese company called KEC Hire Hokuriku with very altruistic motives: assisting the disabled while adding a little extra joy to the experience. All well and good until word got out to a certain sector of Japanese society obsessed with All Things Maid: the Otaku!

From all corners of the country they came to the city of Kanazawa, wrapped in fake bandages covering nonexistent wounds or limping on borrowed crutches... sometimes both. Why the play-acting? Well, for the fun of it, of course, cosplay (costume play) being what it is. Also, KEC Hire Hokuriku specified that the Maid Taxi service was only available to disabled people, quoting Japan's Road Traffic Law that forbade vehicles designated as being for the disabled from being used by the able-bodied. Even the steep 5700 yen (about $52) per hour fee didn't dissuade determined Otaku from getting their maid fix.  
Maybe it was wear & tear on the minivans; maybe it was wear & tear on the maids - or at least, their frilly outfits - but a mere three months after inaugurating the Maid Taxi service, KEC Hire Hokuriku threw in the towel. It remains to be seen whether another company will now do the obvious: start up another Maid Taxi service catering ONLY to Otaku. The way I figure it, they'd clean up! (via Japundit and Dark Diamond)

Steve Levenstein     
Japanese Innovations Writer