Tokyo Insider: 6 Things to Know About "Maid Cafe"

 

via CityCookie

“This is the land of Anime and...boobs.”

As a friend of mine who accompanied me for the trip described, Akihabara has its own unique atmosphere. In a way, it welcomes very particular preferences people -mostly male- secretly have on their minds. How they would want girls to look or act like; unrealistically large breasts and small waists, and submissive (or sometimes dominant) behaviors. Maid Cafes seem to respond to the latter.

via LittleMissPaintBrush.com

One chilly day in December, my friend and I made a trip to Akihabara to experience how the world of Maid Cafes works. I had an assignment from my seminar class to do something “truly, personally challenging”. Because I have always distanced myself from the so-called “subculture”, the task was a perfect chance for me to learn such side of Japan. Initially, my expectations were that the customers would be mostly those men who are extremely introverted or do not know how to communicate with girls normally. At the same time, I imagined those girls working as maid to be someone similar - who want to get attention from guys, regardless of who that would be. Not as bad as prostitution, but the impression of Maid Cafe I had due to the influence of media reports was… (let’s say) abnormal.

 

After visiting one Maid Cafe, here are the 6 things I learned:

1. Pros: Girls get better deals

In the world of Maid Cafe, female customers actually get better service, with being called “Ojou-sama”, meaning ‘young lady’ in Japanese. For Ojou-sama, usually entrance fees and prices for food and drinks are a little cheaper. At the cafe we visited, girls get the membership cards with higher status from first time visiting. Even maids treated us in more polite manner than to other customers, all of whom were middle-aged men.  

via Pinterest

2. Pros: It is somewhat entertaining

(to see maids sometimes forget how they are supposed to act like)

Ojou-sama, we are not human.” As our maids said, it seems that each Maid Cafe has own theme or background settings. The one we visited was based on the story that the place is a courtyard of the goddesses, and the maids are wizards, sorcerers, or some other magical creatures. They called the cook as fairy; who actually was a female staff wearing a black sweater and yoga pants with a white surgery mask on and looking blunt, farthest from the image of a “fairy”. In a way, it was quite entertaining to see even the maids sometimes forget their background stories and talking in a higher-pitched voice. Our maid served us tea in a discourteous (un-maidlike) way unconsciously; apparently she was not trained as a real maid.

via Maidreamin

3. Pros: Maids share quite interesting stories

If you ever visit a maid cafe, you should interview the maids with questions. It sure would make your visit more enjoyable. In our case, we told them that we went there for a project at school. Then, they shared the changes in the recent Maid Cafes as well as their complaints. According to them, some maids nowadays are not as professional as they should be; those “people” became one because they are “cosplayers” and not much interested in the work as a maid, but solely wearing the costumes. It was very interesting to learn that those maids actually have pride in their work. Their real voice was there.

via Aminoapps.com

4. Pros: A win-win situation for the Maids and (Male) customers

I think ‘human’ has a great potential.” One maid also shared the story that quite a few customers have improved their social skills as a result of visiting maid cafes frequently. With staying her set character, she mentioned that seeing such positive changes makes her happy as a maid. (My friend later pointed out though that it probably was because the customer got used to the maids that he felt comfortable talking to them at the end.) Meanwhile, on the maid's side, it seems that the situation is similar. Our maid told us that she originally became one to improve her communication skills. I wondered “why she chose maid cafe” while she could chose working at normal cafes like Starbucks, but it still can be said that it is a win-win situation for both maids and frequent visitors.

via CNN Travel

5. Cons: You see the sad reality of Japan

One undeniable fact is that it is disappointing to see middle-aged men (some of them in suits) visiting and spending hours at maid cafe during the day time of a weekday. We surely wanted to ask them, “what are you doing here? Not working? Just trying to catch attention of maids?” Possibly having this kind of service and business results in low birth rate and the ‘okay’ economy these days in Japan.  

via The R8

6. Cons: Everything is expensive in general

Maid cafes make you spend so much money. The price of food or drinks themselves is not too expensive, but the special fee (a.k.a. possibly-gratuity for the entertainment and service) is something you need to keep in mind. The popular ones usually charge around 600 yen for just staying there for 30 min, and they ask you to order at least one drink; which would cost you over 1500 yen in total. Luckily, minor maid cafes, including the one we visited, have different charging system. In our case, each of us paid 700 yen for 30 min. of stay and all-you-care-to-drink service. If you want to visit one simply out of curiosity, I recommend to wander the maid-cafe area in Akihabara and ask those maids trying to get customers how their service works.

via Hub Japan

Overall, my visit to maid cafe was a quite interesting experience. Personally, it was not so entertaining for me to do it again, but I would recommend to try once if you have not been to one and are somewhat wondering what their world is like. It would be the best to visit with a friend who is comfortable enough to follow what maids ask; saying “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Kirakira-Boo” with some special action when their tea is served.

P.S. Maids in Akihabara can serve in English (since it's one of the most popular touristy places in Tokyo - there are more than just Maid Cafes)!

Learn more about Maid Cafes here.