Fan culture found in collaboration cafes and the spread of new doujin activities





Have you ever been to an anime or game collaboration cafe?


Well, today we’ll talk about the appeal that collaboration cafes have and the fan culture that can be found there. 




Collab merch like anime hand bags and altars in fan culture


Collaboration cafes have become a hot topic these days. Places officially created by the anime and games where you’re able to get up close and personal with the work. Not only are you able to try original menus and drinks inspired by the characters, but there is also limited-edition merch that you can only get there at the collaboration cafe. They’re full of charm and fans will definitely want to experience the cafe at least once.


One of the pleasures of going to the cafe is collecting the merch of your favourite characters to display them in your room in order to spread the love to others who share the same enthusiasm. 


You are able to use metal pins and acrylic charms for decorating bags in order to create what is called ita-bags (English translation: “pain bags”; bags heavily decorated with anime/game paraphernalia). An “altar” is a sanctuary created by arranging merch and related items in one place. It’s a great fan activity, and it is closely tied to the doujin community.




Deeper than you’d expect!? Altar-making

Up until now I only touched on the idea of an altar, but let’s talk about what making an altar actually is all about and how to make an attractive altar.


Traditionally an altar is a place where you are able to present offerings to the gods, Buddha and the dead spirits, but the altar in the otaku world has a very different meaning. It’s purpose is to embody something that is precious to you. 


Of course, it’s not just an altar because you put a bunch of merch in one place, but by filling it in and decorating it with bits and bobs from the 100-yen shop, you can enhance how you present the merch by balancing the colours. This way you can feel the energy and the love that comes out of building your own fan sanctuary, you can use all of these components to create a sense of unity.


An altar built through trial and error really creates a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, and above all, it’s a form of love for the fan culture, which is the same as in the doujin community. 




Let’s get excited with altars and merch! Celebrating birthdays!


Now, let’s dig a little deeper into doujin activities including altars and ita-bags.


Nowadays, character profiles in anime and games are way more detailed than in the past, and they include such things as blood type and birthdays of the characters.  In-game birthday events for characters are held, and people buying real cakes for their favourite character and decorating the space around it with merch to make it that much more exciting has become a new doujin activity in itself. 


Due to the progression of social media, it has become even easier to upload pictures of altars and ita-bags online, and share them with others who share love for the same works and characters. 


People share their altars and ita-bags, and celebrate the birthdays of their favourite characters with others who share the same fandom.  


Share the altar and ita-bags created with ingenuity, and celebrate the character’s birthday with people who have the same push. It’s important to remember that the doujin community and activities doesn’t only encompass the creation of manga and novels, and cosplaying, but also the newly emerging activities involving the use of goods to create something new. 




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