One of the strangest hours of my life was spent at a maid café in Tokyo. I find Japanese culture fascinating so I was curious to see what the fuss was with a maid café, much to the surprise of my husband. If you’re thinking of going to one, here’s my experience of what to expect.
What is a maid cafe?
Maid cafes are generally cafes in which the waitresses are all dressed as maids. The concept originated in Akihabara, a district of Tokyo famous for electronics stores and manga/anime stores. Originally the patrons of these cafes were otaku – a sub-culture of people who are interested in computers and anime. But anyone is welcome at a maid cafe and despite some beliefs, they are cutesy not kinky.
What to expect at a maid cafe in Japan
One evening we took a walk around Akihabara and were approached by one of the maids of MaiDreamin. After a very mixed up conversation of her little English and our very little Japanese we made our way via elevator to the café.
Upon the doors opening we were greeted by enthusiastic cutesy Japanese cheers and the tiniest cutest little maid of all took us to our table, calling us “Master” and “Princess”. She then kneeled down and ‘lit’ a battery operated candle for us and handed us our menus.
The menu choices are basically a package. You choose either an omelette, katsu curry or ice cream, plus a drink, plus a gift. Or instead of food and drink you could just have an alcoholic cocktail and a gift. Yes a little confusing but thank goodness for the Japanese love of picture menus!
My husband chose an ice cream, a soft drink and a keyring that looked like a little maids outfit, I went for a cocktail and an A4 sized poster of MaiDreamin (?!). The ice cream was pretty cute looking and normally I love ice cream but I didn’t fancy it that night. The curry and omelette in my opinion looked pretty gross. Even though they make them look adorable by drawing smiley faces in ketchup on the omelette or shaping the curry to look like a teddy bear.
Maid cafes require some audience participation. I can’t remember if we got involved singing one, two or three songs in our over-all time there. I do remember being adorned with some fluffy animal ears (bear? mouse?) and then the maids came over to our table to sing a song something like “miow miow cute” and “delicious delicious”. We had to get involved with the singing, clapping and actions. And as bizarre as it felt, it was kind of fun.
When my cocktail arrived, the shaker and glass were placed down on the table, so I figured I would just pour it. However, I was wrong. The maids came rushing over because there was a little song that had to be sung before the cocktail could be poured. So there were two or three maids stood at our table clapping and singing about who knows what?!
After that, they pretty much left us to it. There was a bit of singing and dancing on stage but other patrons were arriving. Thankfully there were some other female tourists in there and not just Japanese men, so it wasn’t too weird.
As you pay by the hour in these places, we decided that 1 hour was enough for us. Before we left, the maids invited us onto their little stage and two of them had their photos taken with us as extra souvenirs. I asked the tiny girl that had been our main waitress how old she was, because her English was pretty good and I was beyond curious.
“Seven” she replied
“Seven?” I questioned. I wondered if I had misheard her, so I began to count in Japanese. Of course, she loved that and counted along with me. And when we reached “nana” she said yes!
Obviously she was lying to me. I can get away with knocking 10 years off my age so this girl was probably doing the same!
Are maid cafes worth visiting?
We found the experience a little surreal. In my opinion, it’s worth doing once in your life. But given that was the most expensive ice cream, coca cola and cocktail we’d ever had it won’t be an experience we’ll repeat (I think it cost £25-30 GBP all in all!).
If you fancy going to a Maid Café yourself, then you can mostly find them in the district of Akihabara, aka Electric Town. Note that while you may take photos of your food, it is not permitted to take your own pictures of the room or the maids.
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