In recent years we’ve seen technology disrupt entire industries, revolutionizing basic services at the heart of our lives. The taxi industry by Uber, television by Netflix, the second-hand goods market by Japan’s very own unicorn, Merucari. And now, even the traditional pillar of salaryman entertainment, the snack (sunakku), looks set to be swept up in the digital revolution.

Snacks are an institution of Japanese nightlife. A type of Japanese bar providing unlimited drinks, the comfort of the attentive female proprietress (and sometimes hostesses) and live karaoke performed by patrons. Having their origins in the 1960s, remaining establishments are often instantly recognizable by their retro neon signs displaying bold, pithy hiragana names.

Since inception, snacks have attracted a clientele of salarymen, and the same holds true today. But as they and their clientele approach retirement age, their numbers have been steadily dwindling. Until this month, that is, when a virtual version of the sunakku is set to open in Akihabara. Could this be the beginning of a post-modern, post-salaryman revolution for the salaryman sanctuary?

What is a Virtual Snack

From December 21st - 25th a virtual snack will open in Akihabara for a limited time only. This venture was born from a partnership with Virtual Entertainment company Balus, the Akiba Tourism Council and Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.. The snack will collaborate with some of Japan’s most popular V-Tubers or virtual YouTube singers, who will guest as virtual hostesses.

The virtual snack lets customers interact with, and enjoy the company of the virtual singers while enjoying an all you can drink and eat menu.

They will be displayed on 80 inch, transparent projector screens for a dose of super-sized fan service. In total, 7 characters will appear in the virtual snack. The virtual characters have different schedules and some will appear at the same time but on different screens. To help you decide which day to visit, check out our roster introduction below:

The Virtual Snack Hostess Lineup

Hoshino Mea - The Mama

Schedule: Saturday, December 21st - 18:00~19:30

Though only in the second grade of high school Hoshino Mae is appearing in the role of Mama, the traditional master of a Japanese snack. She began singing in 2018 and has already made a virtual appearance at her own live concert. A rising star in the V-tuber world, she definitely has the chops to lead the lineup. Check out some of her videos here.

Fanzu Chan

Schedule: Saturday, December 21st - 18:30~20:00

Fanzu Chan appeals to the otaku crowd out there as she is passionate about anime, manga and games. She’s part of the FUN’s PROJECT which connects pop culture content creators to audiences. Watch the virtual tunes of her and her sidekick cat here.

Shironeko Nekosuke

Schedule: Saturday, December 21st - 20:45~21:45

Shironeko is a virtual rakugo performer. Rakugo being the traditional style of Japanese comic storytelling. A unique fusion of kawaii and stand up humor, Shironeko is a must-see for anyone wanting to kick back and laugh. Check out her antics on her YouTube channel here.

Inside Chan Mark 1

Schedule: Wednesday, December 25th - 18:00~19:30

Inside Chan is a virtual reporter who reports on the virtual and video game industries for Insaido Channel on YouTube. She normally works in partnership with her sister, Inside Chan Mark 2. The pair enjoy experimenting with content and you can check out their interviews, live video game play-throughs and songs.

Inside Chan Mark 2

Schedule: Wednesday, December 25th - 20:15~21:45

Inside Chan Mark 2 will also be making an appearance along with her sister Mark 1. The pair enjoy a good repartee on YouTube but they’ll be working solo shifts in the virtual snack. With the Inside Chan’s you might get insider video game news while enjoying your drinks!

You can check out both Mark 1 and 2 on their YouTube channel here.

Minami Nami

Schedule: Sunday, December 22nd - 18:00~19:30 & 20:15~21:45

Minami Nami will be right at home in a snack because she loves singing and drinking according to her YouTube channel. If you share her passions, and even if you don’t - Minami is a real character, stop by the virtual snack and make a new friend. You can see more on her YouTube channel here.

Lionel Eleonore De Chienia

Schedule: Monday, December 23rd - 18:30~20:00 & 20:45~22:15

This V-Tuber has a heavy schedule given their day job is being a Queen. The ruler of Chienia reports the situation in her fictional country in a charming and entertaining way and will no doubt have some great Chienian stories to share in the virtual snack. Let’s just hope there are no national emergencies in her Kingdom while she’s entertaining in the snack. See her videos on her YouTube channel here.

Schedule and Ticket Prices

Some schedules have yet to be announced but the picture above shows the current running order.

Tickets will ¥6,500 including all you can drink and eat.

Book online here

The virtual snack will be located at DUB GALLERY in Akihabara.

Address (JP): 東京都千代⽥区神⽥佐久間町1‒14 第2東ビル2階 216号室
Address (EN): Rm. 216 2F Daini Azuma Bldg., 1-14 Sakuma-cho, Kanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo

With so many cute, talented virtual characters making an appearance, the virtual snack is clearly aiming to attract the new generation of salary-young-adults. However, the event promises fun and excitement for those of all ages! Head down to Akihabara’s virtual snack and enjoy some virtual fun this Christmas - salaryman style.

By - Toby M.