What Are Maid Cafés?
Maid cafés are one of many themed cafés around Japan, and are primarily targeted toward males, but women can go too! These cafés are meant to appeal to people who are interested in Japan's kawaii subculture, where anything considered "cute" is admired. Servers are dressed up in cute anime looking maid outfits, and talk in a very cutesy like fashion.
Maid cafés can be primarily found in Akihabara, located in the city of Tokyo. Akihabara is Japan's anime city, and the birth place of maid cafés.
What You Should Expect When You Walk In
When you enter a restaurant you're usually greeted with "いっらしゃいませ！” (irrashaimase - welcome to our store!) but when you enter a maid café you'll be greeted with something like "お帰りなさいませ、ご主人様(お嬢様" (okaerinasaimase, goshujinsama - welcome home master).
Maid cafés are meant to make you feel like the master of the castle when you enter, and the servers are there to act as your servants. This dynamic is why maid cafés are catered more towards males, it's to make them feel important and powerful.
They may switch up the greetings depending on if you're with a group of people, by yourself, or if you're female.
Generally, maid cafés are very cutesy on the inside. The decor consists of brightly colored walls covered in cute wallpaper, dazzling lights, and even a stage for the maids to dance on.
Ordering and Being Served
The menus at a maid café are filled with cute dishes and drinks. Dishes like omelette rice are particularly cool because you can request your maid to draw a picture on it with ketchup. Some cafés allow you to order sets, where you can order food, a drink, and a picture with a maid or even dress up as a maid.
You order like you would at any other Japanese restaurant, but being served is a different story. When the server bring you your food you have to bless it with a song to make it taste good. The song generally goes like "make this food delicious moe moe kyun!" your also supposed to shape your hands like hearts while doing the chant. This can be really embarrassing if you're by yourself, but it's really fun with friends.
Of course I can't let you read one of my articles without listing rules! There are some things to keep in mind when visiting a maid café, these rules are primarily in place to protect the workers and their privacy.
1. No pictures
This rule should be a bit obvious. People in Japan don't like their picture being taken without their permission, it's seen as an invasion of privacy. In maid cafés servers have a higher risk of being harassed because of the way they dress, so it's better to respect their privacy and keep your camera off. Of course, you can take pictures with permission of the owner if your writing an article or doing a special film project.
2. Don't Touch the Maids
This should also be common sense. Don't touch the maids unless you're given consent. This is to protect the servers, and if you break this rule you could possible get into trouble by the authorities.
Should You Really Visit?
Honestly, maid cafés kinda make me cringe. The overly cute nature and being called "master" is a little weird for me. Of course, I think visiting with friends could be fun, because you're getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Maid cafés are starting to become more prevalent in other countries, so it's possible that you could get this experience in your own country rather tan traveling all the way to Japan.
Of course, the whole purpose of a maid café is to have fun, so enjoy yourself and cross it off your bucket list!