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Maid Café in Tokyo’s Akihabara

To the uninitiated, the name Akihabara is synonymous with visions of a high-tech neighbourhood, tall buildings with flashing neon signs and hundreds of electronic shops that line up its streets. As gaudy as it may appear at first glance, for anyone passionate about technology, manga and video games, Tokyo’s gadget heaven is worth the experience.

Maid Café in Tokyo

Akihabara is also knows as a ghetto for otaku. In other words, nerds.

Maid Café in Tokyo
Chuo Dori street

On Sundays, the main street, Chuo Dori, is closed to traffic and hundreds of eager technophiles converge in Akiba, as it is known to locals. Had I not left my inner geek back home, I could have been in my element. But I was in search of something more than a piece of hardware or a geeky toy that goes beep in the night. My higher purpose was to find girls. In maid uniforms.

Maid Café in Tokyo
Maid Kissa

When I first heard of Maid Kissa or Maid Cafés, I expected elegant establishments where one would partake in a choice of beverages while being served by these lovelies. Naturally, I thought it was worth a visit while in Tokyo but the experience was far different from my expectations.

Near the exit of Akihabara station, several girls in maid outfits handed out brochures and inviting smiles. Further along on the main street, I rubbed shoulders with the nerdy boys vying for a photograph of the girls in their costumes. They happily posed for my camera which made this female foreigner bow in gratitude.

Maid Café in Tokyo

Up on the sixth floor of one of the tall buildings, our group of three waited patiently in what seemed like an interminable queue of people sweating from the heat. We were given fans to keep us cool and asked to pre-order our beverages.

The cheery cries of “Okaerinasaimase, goshujinsama” Japanese for “Welcome home, Master” grew louder as we approached the head of the queue. The maids greeted us with as much excitement as the nerdy boys ahead. But once we were shown to our bar stools in the corner, we were left to our own devices.

Maid Café in Tokyo
In the queue

Then coffee was served. Cold. In a plastic cup with a straw.

Maid Cafés are in essence role playing. A customer, usually male, enters the café to be treated like the master of the house. Specifically designed for geeks and nerds, hence the Akihabara location, Maid Cafés have enjoyed a popularity in Tokyo.

Maid Café in Tokyo
Inside the café

Pretty girls moved around the café, chatted with customers and played card games before they farewell them out with a different tune.  Visits last for a maximum of one hour. Photography was forbidden but 1000 Yen got you a memento photograph with the girls. I managed to sneak in a little snapshot*.

The maids centred their role play on young nerdy-looking boys who flirted with them, in a manner that nerds do. We were largely ignored, just like three Japanese school girls who followed us.

Maid Café in Tokyo
Akihabara at night

Although the experience didn’t meet expectation, it was worth the visit. After all, it’s not every day that a western traveller gets to take part in a Tokyo fad that could disappear as quickly as vending machines selling soiled schoolgirls’ underwear.

@Home Café
http://cafe-athome.com/ (in Japanese)
http://www.cafe-athome.com/pics/?lang=en (English)


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.