The word otaku may look and even sound a little like the Japanese word for male (otoko), but it signifies something beyond that.
Otaku is an honorific form of a Japanese word meaning home (taku), and the term is actually a sarcastic reference to someone who spends hours in their home in order to obsessively focus on a hobby or interest. Often described as a geek or a nerd, the word usually suggests someone who is uncomfortable interacting with their peers or other humans, and who exhibits anti-social behavior. Otaku are almost always males.
Otaku first became a buzz word in the 1980s when anime and manga were becoming popular, and the term was used to describe young men who were obsessed with those Japanese creations. That makes this hashioki a perfect example of an otaku because it comes from the gift shop of the Kyoto International Manga Museum. It is probably meant to portray a young salaryman, or low level office worker, who are among the biggest manga fans. If you’re not sure what I meant by anti-social behavior, look carefully; I think this figure is picking his nose.
Otaku are not limited to those who obsess about comic books and cartoons. There are car otaku, camera otaku, railroad otuku, and many more varieties. The debonair bow tie on this hashioki looks like a fashion otaku, or young man who is obsessed with dressing like a dandy.
Of course I can’t help but wonder: what would a hashioki that portrays an otaku obsessed with hashioki look like?