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Do you know about the restaurants in Japan called “maid cafes”? At maid cafes, the waitresses are dressed as maids and refer to male customers as “goshujin-sama” (master) and to female customers as “ojo-sama” (lady). If you take a single step into one of these cafes, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that you have stepped into your kingdom.
However, if you’re not familiar with the atmosphere, it can be difficult for first-timers to fully enjoy your time. For example, if a maid spots a cockroach and says, “oh, it’s a fairy!” while hitting it with something, you must pretend that you don’t see it. At maid cafes, the customers along with the maids create the setting.
Recently, in order to differentiate from their competitors, different types of maid cafes have appeared. For example, there are cafes where the maids dress in costumes from the Warring States Period or like idols. There are also some cafes that aren’t actually cafes, but rather sushi restaurants. Because of this, the line that’s drawn around what makes a “maid cafe” has become ambiguous.
Here are some information about the latest maid cafes.
MealsPhoto by kaige from flickrPhoto by Ryuta Ishimoto from flickr
Since it’s a cafe, you can order drinks and light meals. There are cafes that draw illustrations on your food with chocolate, ketchup or other types of sauces. Also often when serving, the maids make a performance casting a spell on the food, chanting phrases like “oishiku nare (be delicious), moe moe kyun!” (“moe” means ‘cute’ and “kyun” is an onomatopoetic phrase referring to the momentary tightening of one’s chest due to a powerful feeling). However, sometimes this magic fails.
Since they’re called maid cafes, the standard cosplay is, of course, of a maid. Usually the outfit consists of a dress, a petticoat, pinafore apron, stockings and accessories that usually have ribbons attached. Depending on the restaurant, sometimes they also wear cat ears.
The cafes offer services other than just food; for example, the service called “cheki” is a picture that you can take with one of the maids using an instant camera. Often many people strike poses such as making a heart shape with the maid. Also, at some of the cafes, you can have the maids hold the spoon for you, play games with you, etc.
At maid cafes, the maids and the customers can enjoy fun communication, but there are rules that one must be aware of. For example, depending on the restaurant, there are rules like “don’t touch the maids” or “don’t ask for their contact information.”
Also, there are usually rules against taking photos inside the restaurant. If you want to take a picture with a maid, you must ask for the cheki service. In some of the cafes, if you want to take a picture of your food, you must tell the maids so and they will check your photos.
You’re not just charged for the food. Some cafes charge entrance fees and/or charge by the hour. However, they’re not that expensive, and the prices are usually around the same as a regular cafe. Usually the bill will come out to around 2000 yen. However, when using additional services such as cheki, you might end up with a bill, a little over 3000 yen.
The future of maid cafes
Maid cafes have been accepted into Japanese pop culture, but due to the number of newly opening cafes, the competition has become intense. In addition, there are new types of cosplay restaurants, as mentioned in the introduction and the market of such cafes is more or less saturated. If you walk in Akihabara, you’ll notice many girls trying to get customers to go into their cafes.
Because of that, one of the new solutions that some cafes have come up with is to turn their staff into idols. They sing at the restaurant, release CDs, and many girls work as live idols with the cafe support of the cafe.
Recently an event called A-Live was held where girls from maid cafes and other cosplay themed cafes performed. Such idols are becoming popular and gaining more attention.
Actually, if you see photos you’ll understand: from singing to dancing to physical appearance, these girls could definitely be actual idols.
This is a changing or rather a still developing culture. When you visit Japan, this is an experience you shouldn’t miss.
If you want to try a maid cafe, Akihabara (if using the subway, Suehiro-cho) is the perfect place to go. Even if you’re caught by the pullers-in on the street, you will rarely find yourself in trouble. However, there have been cases where first-timers go to places called “rifure”, a shop with a massage service. While they’re not brothels, some have illegal services so you must be careful.
Anyhow, you would want to visit cafes where you can be assured of the quality. So lastly, here is a list of the best maid cafes to go to. You should definitely try this Japanese pop culture.
[Beginners] Curemaid Cafeotapoke.com
This Japanese Black Tea Association authorized cafe is recommended for people who still feel a little awkward to communicate with the maids. The staffs are dressed like maids, but the cafe is more like a regular cafe, so it’s perfect for people who just want to lightly enjoy that atmosphere. They sometimes have collaborations with different animes, which is very Akihabara-like.
Monday-Thursday: 11 am-8 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11 am-10 pm
Sunday & Holidays: 11 am-7 pm
Address: GStore Akiba 6F, Sotokanda 3-15-5, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Phone number: 03-3258-3161
[Standard] Cafe Mai:lishakihabaralist.com
Cafe Mai:lish is a celebrated shop in the world of maid cafes. They take a 90 minutes one order system, so if you wish to stay there for longer than 90 minutes, you will have to make additional orders. Usually they wear maid outfits, but they transform into anime characters during cosplay time. There are also event days.
Business hours: 11 am-10 pm
Address: FH Kyouwa Square 2F, Sotokanda 3-6-2, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Phone number: 03-5289-7310
Mononopu is a Warring States maid cafe and bar for people who aren’t satisfied with regular maid cafes. Since the theme is the Warring States, their maid outfits have a Japanese touch to it and the greeting is “welcome back, lord/princess”. In addition to the meals they also serve alcohol.
Monday-Tuesday : 2 pm-10 pm
Wednesday-Friday : 2 pm-11 pm
Saturday & Holiday : noon-11 pm
Sunday & end of long holidays : noon-10 pm
Address: Izu Building 5F (B Floor), Sotokanda 4-6-2, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Phone number: 03-5296-9199
All non-credited photos taken by Yoshikazu Saito.