Akihabara Maids Cool Down Electronics District With Uchimizu

Young women from in costumes from Akihabara's maid cafes took to the streets of Tokyo's electronics district Saturday to attempt to cool down temperatures by practicing an ages old Japanese tradition called Uchimizu, where water is sprinkled on the hot concrete to cool it down.

About 20 maids -- coffee shop workers who dress in uniforms -- assembled at the nearby Kanda Myojin Shrine, where they and their water was blessed, before sprinkling it on the shrine's concrete pavement in front of a crowd of photographers and fans. Over the course of 15 minutes they managed to bring down the temperature by a few degrees.

Then it was off to Akihabara proper. The temperature was attacked at three places around the railway station with varying success. Outside one building the temperature fell just point 3 of a degree -- probably because it was shaded and already fairly cool to begin with -- but that didn't stop participants from having fun.

Uchimizu has long been practiced by home-owners although it's slowly dying out as the modern generation turns to air conditioners and other high-tech gadgets to beat Japan's oppressive summer heat. The festival in Akihabara, which is in its fifth year, is a by-product of a wish to keep old Japanese traditions alive.

Cos-players -- people wearing costumes of their favorite animated characters -- can often be seen in the area and the maid cafes grew out of this culture.

The event was one of the first major things to happen in Akihabara since a stabbing rampage left 7 people dead and 10 people injured in early-June. At the start of Saturday's event a minute's silence was observed in memory of the dead. The attack shocked many in the area but they hope that through events like Uchimizu the unique spirit of the district will return.

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