Japan is one of my favorite places to visit in the world. What I love about Japan, apart from fast trains and culture, is its quirkiness. For example, it’s not at all strange in Japan to find people dressed up as their favorite Manga characters or people dressed up in Lolita Style, a style inspired by Victorian-era dolls. An extension of this cosplay culture can be seen in Maid Cafe in Akihabara.
A Maid cafe is a cosplay themed cafe, popular in Japan, where the waitstaff are usually young women who are dressed up in a maid costume. The cafes serve ice cream, coffee or entrees. What makes these cafe unique is not just the costume but also the rituals that are part of the service. Anywhere else in the world, the Maid Cafe could seem a bit creepy but they fit right in, in Akihabara’s Electric Town which is all about Otaku and cosplay culture.
Most Maid Cafe in Tokyo are concentrated in the Electric Town of Akihabara. There are a few in Shibuya and Shinjuku.
As I strolled down the vibrant streets of Electric Town, I noticed many young women dressed up in a maid costumes handing out flyers and beckoning people to visit their cafe. When planning my visit to Japan, I came across these cafes and was very curious to find out what the experience would be like.
I chose Maidreamin, a cafe which serves light meals and desserts. I was ushered into the cafe by a “maid” who informed us that we could only take photos only during photo time. Even though I didn’t immediately understand what she meant by photo time, I nodded and signalled agreement.
Once inside the maid cafe, the waitress dressed in a maid costume approached us with the menu. She immediately informed us that there is a seating charge. A seating charge is a fixed amount per hour that is added to your bill on top of the charge for the food. In Japan, seating charges are common in many restaurants that are located in tourist locations.
There were mainly two options on the menu: a meal set and the dessert set. For the meal set you have the choice of either Omelette Rice (also called Omurice) or Kuma Chan Curry. For the dessert set, you can order a Parfait(strawberry, vanilla, chocolate or matcha) or Cake. Each option comes with a drink of your choice.
You can either order just the food or go for the tourist experience, where you get a free gift and a photo with the maid.
If you like, you can also order a maid show – a performance by the maids with light sabers. If you are interested in dressing up as a maid yourself, there’s that option too.
The free gifts that came with the Tourist Experience were animal ears that we had to wear in the cafe. My husband reluctantly chose the one with the smallest and the least embarrasing ears. I, of course, went for the opposite – huge bunny ears!
After we wore the animal ears, the maid cafe ritual began. The waitress asked us to repeat a song after her. It went something like “Delicious … Delicious…” followed by some japanese words. We hestitanly mumbled the lyrics back to her. As if singing a song not embarrasing enough, you had to repeat all the weird hand gestures and claps that accompanied the song too.
The icecreams and drinks took some time to arrive. However, when they did arrive, I was delighted. The parfaits had been decorated with animal faces and just like everything in the cafe, they were very cute. My icecream was a duck with a marsh mallow head and my husband’s icecream was a bunny with two cookie ears.
Once again, the waitress began her maid cafe ritual again. We followed suit now a bit used to the absurd ritual. The ice creams tasted as good as they looked. We finished them off with fizzy green melon sodas.
Once we had paid our bill, It was finally photo time! we were led to a small stage area at the back of the cafe. The two maids who had served us took turns taking a photo with me. Of course! I had to pose with ridiculous hand gestures again else it wouldn’t be a maid cafe experience, would it?
At the end of my visit to the Maid Cafe, I left feeling a little silly but with a huge smile on my face, not to mention bunny ears on my head.
What do you think of this maid cafe experience? Will you try it if you visit Japan? Would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments.
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