‘Only in Japan!’ — We find ourselves saying this more and more as we explore Tokyo, but never has it been more relevant than when we were ushered into one of Akihabara’s Maid Cafes.
What is a maid cafe? I guess the closest western equivalent would be somewhere like Hooters; a place men (and in this case also tourists) go to ogle at women dressed in skimpy outfits…but that is where the comparison ends. As the name suggests, it’s a cafe where the waitresses are dressed as maids. But not the sexy fishnet-tights-wearing, bad-French-accent-adopting maids of western fantasies, no, these maids have an innocence about them which is quite difficult to describe. Basically, imagine a grown woman dressed in a child’s Hello Kitty costume, and speaking like they’ve inhaled a canister of helium, and you’ll sort of get the idea.
After being ushered up a flight of stairs, we took our seats in a room decorated with clouds and next to a bunch of Japanese businessmen awkwardly drinking beer whilst wearing cat ears.
Bunny ears were placed on our heads and we were continuously invited to giggle and clap at everything our maid would say to us. Imagine if you were playing a game with a toddler. Kind of like that.
Because of the popularity of maid cafes, both with tourists and local businessmen, you have to pay a ¥500 (£3.50) table charge for an hour. Although I would like to see how they get rid of you after your time is up. My guess is that they just tickle you until you leave.
We got an ice cream sundae, decorated to look like a cat, (of course) and were encouraged to put ‘magic’ on it, which consisted of making a heart shape with your hands and singing a little Japanese song. The cutesy-ness of it was never-ending.
If you can get over the weirdness of it all, a visit to a maid cafe is well worth it. It’s truly an experience you are unlikely to forget. But if you like your waitresses more on the sleezey side, maybe stick to hooters- these maids have class!