Welcome home Master/Mistress! First of all I want to say sorry to my poor blog for neglecting it for over 2 weeks!! So unlike me! I haven’t been massively busy, but R is home for 2 weeks holiday so I have been enjoying his company and ‘enjoying the moment’, so my camera has barely been out and it has been a nice break from the pressure of documenting my days! I will probably update you all on what I’ve been up to sometime next week when R returns home and I return to work. T_T
Until then, I bring you another informative blog post for all you Japanese enthusiasts, separated into two parts! This post is based on a topic that I was lucky enough to somewhat experience recently – Maid Cafés!!! Today is Part 1: Maid Cafés in Japan!! ♥♥♥
Ah~ I’m not quite sure what it is about the concept of a Maid Café but I would love to visit a real one some day because they are so cute and kawaii! I was lucky enough to have my first experience of a UK Maid Café at this year’s Hyper Japan event in London, and I will write a separate post on that at a later date but I really enjoyed the experience and it made me more excited for the day that I get to experience a true Maid Café! *(^o^)*
What is a Maid Café?
A Maid Café is a subcategory of Cosplay restaurants; themed restaurants and cafés are very popular in Japan and there are many different types to cater to different interests! The waiting staff (usually female) are often dressed as French maids (dress, apron, petticoat, stockings and hair accessory such as a frill or bow) and the idea is that customers are ‘welcomed’ as ‘Masters’ or ‘Mistresses’ as if they were returning home rather than entering as customers of a café.
What types of maids are there?
In most Maid Cafés, young, attractive and innocent-looking women are hired as maids, and it is common in a Maid Café that each maid is different to their colleagues to add variety to the maids’ personalities and to add appeal to a wider audience. Quite often their acting skills will be tested upon application as many Maid Cafés require their maids to role play different characters or personalities; some employees are even contractually obliged to not reveal personal information about themselves to prevent their character mask from slipping, they must also be careful to not slip out of character or be seen out of costume to prevent the fantasy from being ruined (much like characters at Disneyland)! Although it is usually women who are employed, there are some places that hire Butlers or even cross-dressing male maids.
What is the main purpose of a Maid Café?
Maid Cafés were originally designed to cater to the interests of male Otaku and fans of Anime, Manga and video games. The maid image has been popularised and fantasised within the Otaku subculture, especially the concept of ‘moe maids’ or ‘Maid Moe’, who are young, innocent-looking characters; people with an interest in moe are drawn to these cafés to experience real-life manifestations of the types of characters that they fantasise about. These days Maid Cafés are popular not just with men or fans of the Otaku culture, but families, couples, women and tourists looking to experience popular elements of Tokyo.
What service can be expected at a Maid Café?
Commonly upon entering, maids will greet customers with the Japanese greeting of ‘Welcome home Master/Mistress’ before offering wipe towels and menus, and showing the customers to a free table. Maids must be friendly, attentive and readily available to check on and interact with customers; it is common for many maids to be on the floor at once to ensure that someone is always available to attend the customers’ needs. Extra services such as grooming (leg, arm, hand and back massages), game-playing (card, board and video games), arts and crafts, singing and dancing are available for an extra fee; sometimes if you are lucky, you will get to experience a live performance. Customers can also pay a small fee to have a photo with their favourite maid and sometimes the maid will decorate the photo with drawings and stickers!
What is to be expected of the customers?
Apart from being a polite and happy customer who preferably will spend a lot of money at their café (any businesses’ main priority), customers are also expected to follow rules upon entering a Maid Café. This is to ensure the safety of the staff from, shall we say, creepy and perverted customers which is understandable considering the cafés originally catered heavily for the interests of men and male Otaku (as do a lot of female roles in Japan e.g. Idols). These days it is not uncommon for a Maid Café to have up to ten rules that the customers must abide by:
1. Do not touch the maids – The maids are not part of the menu so keep your hands off, despite the concept of a Maid Café catering for male interests whilst knowingly portraying characters that are heavily fetishised and fantasised about in Japan, it is not that kind of café.
2. Do not ask for a maid’s personal details – This rule may be split into several to ensure that there is no ‘misunderstanding’ by what is meant as a maid’s personal details; basically do not ask for other means of contact from the maid.
3. Do not infringe on a maid’s privacy – This can be anything from asking what time she gets off of work or what she likes to do in her spare time, basically another ‘don’t be stalky’ kind of rule.
4. Do not stalk or persistently pick up a maid – It’s not unusual for customers to have favourite maids, especially since you can learn about ‘them’ (‘them’ because they are acting out personas), however just because you have a favourite maid does not mean you should constantly bother them or stalk them.
5. Do not linger outside the café waiting for maids to come or go – Again, don’t be a stalker and wait for the maids to arrive or leave work; bothering them outside of work is just as much as no-no as bothering them inside the café.
6. Do not harm the employees, guests or neighbours of the café – As if all of the other rules didn’t stamp out harming those around you, this rule ensures that everyone should be kept safe from harm.
7. Do not take photos of the maids, interior or exterior of the café – Maid Café’s are very private and forbid photos being taken; this may be to prevent stalking or perverted photo shots of the maids, but most likely to encourage customers to pay for a cheki photo with their favourite maid. As for the café interior or exterior, this may be to prevent competition with other Maid Café’s; especially with the more popular Maid Cafés, they don’t need competition knowing what is going on inside that makes it so popular. Saying that, many Maid Cafés do allow you to take photos of yourself and your food.
8. Do not bring outside food or drink into the café – This goes without saying since all food places have this rule.
9. Do not smoke directly outside or on the stairs outside of the Maid Café – Again another rule that goes without saying, they don’t want people hanging around outside the front of their café, using their stairs as a sitting spot, crowding the entrance to the café and blocking a potential fire exit.
There were 10 rules but I squashed the ‘asking for personal email address’ and ‘asking for personal phone number’ into number 2.
It seems like an awful lot of rules that a customer has to abide by but hopefully most people would follow all of these anyway; unfortunately a lot of Japanese Otaku may struggle to separate reality from fantasy and become a hassle for the maids which is the main issue that they are trying to avoid by enforcing these rules, it’s not to say it won’t happen but it helps to keep a boundary between customer and staff. Some people really need to realise that these maids are just waitresses and you wouldn’t pester a normal waitress, so it is not acceptable to harass the maids either.
What food and drink is available on the menu?
Most Maid Café menus are similar to typical cafés but often have a ‘kawaii’ twist such as decorating the food with syrup or sauce art, and arranging the food into something similar to Kyaraben or ‘charaben’ in English; many Maid Cafés also chant ‘magic spells’ over your food in order to bless it to be more delicious and also to bless you good fortune by saying ‘moe moe kyun!’ (or something to that effect). Omurice, various curries, rice bowls, spaghetti dishes and salad dishes, are quite popular savoury options and parfaits, jellies, cheese cakes, custard puddings and pancakes are popular dessert options; various hot drinks including coffees, teas, hot chocolate and lattes are available, as well as various cold drink options including iced coffees, iced teas, fizzy drinks, iced lattes, milkshakes, and alcoholic beverages!
What popular Maid Cafés are available?
There are 200+ Maid Cafés available to visit in Japan alone, so there are so many choices to choose from! The most popular Maid Cafés are:
There are also other Maid Cafés that have a theme besides maids such as:
Schatz Kiste – ‘Akihabara Culture Café’
Cos-Cha – Back-to-school
Nagomi – The ‘little sister’ café
Popopure – Non-Japanese, English-speaking maids
Sure enough there are plenty of Maid Café types to suit most people’s interests if you are that interested in seeking out a specific style; the majority of people however will visit the most popular cafés such as Maidreamin and @home café for the experience.
So that’s everything you need to know about Maid Cafés! I hope you enjoyed this little info post, I sure enjoyed learning all about Maid Cafés myself and I really hope to visit one in Japan one day! All the food and drink looks super kawaii and I love the maid uniform in general! I even own one myself now but I plan on altering it to a style better suited to me before you guys get to see it!! Hopefully that will be soon and if you enjoy Maid Cafés then I sure hope you will stick around to see what I have in store for you!! Until next time!!~♥