What It's Like to Visit a Maid Cafe in Akihabara

Updated on December 12, 2016

Over the past couple of years, Japan has witnessed quite an explosion of cosplay cafes- cafes in which the wait staff dresses up in costumes and serves diners in character. While the concept of costume-clad waitstaff is by no means new (consider Disneyland's character breakfasts and Hollywood themed restaurants where one is served by Marilyn Monroe and Elvis impersonators), cosplay cafes are unique in their focus on otaku (basically, anime, manga, and idol enthusiast) clientelle.

The most popular form of cosplay cafe is the maid cafe, in which waitresses in maid costumes and address diners with formal honorifics, assume a variety of cute poses, and make diners bless their food with adorable spells.

Are you curious to know what it's like to visit a maid cafe? Not all are the same, but most follow the same basic format, so I can at least share my experience with you as a reference point. Enjoy!

The Cafe

I recently visited a maid cafe in the popular Tokyo neighborhood of Akihabara with my friend Eimi-san. We were both new to the maid cafe experience, so we thought it would be fun to investigate one in Japan's most otaku-friendly neighborhood. We settled on one nestled into the fourth floor of a building that had the slowest, most questionable elevator possible.

As the doors slid back on the fourth floor, two chimes that were taped to the doorway jingled away, and a young girl (well, young as in 18-23) in a maid costume came up to us and did a little cutesy introduction which I could not understand, but which, according to Maid Cafe Practice, involved much use of the word "master" and magical happy anime speak.

We were lead into the cafe (which had two sections- one with tables and chairs and one with three long rows of tables and chairs facing in one direction, theater style) and seated at the table closest to a heart shaped stage.

The place was packed! Even though eight maids were running around, it took a long time for them to get around to catering to all 50 or so people in the cafe.

Being Served

The serving process involved first being given a special passport (read: rewards/loyalty card), then having a plastic, battery-powered candle lit with "magic", then ordering one of the cute dishes from the restaurant (e.g. Mashed potatoes molded into a heart shape, ice cream dishes arranged to look like animals, omurice with catchup drawings of cute faces...).

When an order arrives, the maid bringing it directs its recipients in casting magical spell that will make the food taste good. I think what we said was "oishiku nare, moe moe kyun!" which means something like make this food yummy, bibbity bobbity boo / abracadabra!" ("Moe moe kyun is an anime-based meme involving a character in a maid costume. There is no simple translation for the word "moe," but it involves good feelings felt by otaku. There is also no simple translation for "kyun," which Eimi-san described to me as that feeling you get when you see a guy (or girl) you like). If you're curious about the phrase, I've written a full explanation of it here.

Clapping was required for the first part of the spell, the "moe" part required the hands to shape a heart which bounced from the right to the left, and the "kyun" part turned the hands from a heart into a gun that I assume is responsible for shooting the good taste into the food.

Some orders warranted extra theatrics. Shaken cocktails required the entire audience/restaurant to clap in unison while a maid shaking the cocktail sang/recited something cutesy. Some dishes involved all those getting served to go up and pose with the maids. Special dishes are typically ordered with a package involving both the dish, the performance, and a commemorative photo.

Evidence. Bam.
Evidence. Bam.

Photos

For an extra charge, diners can pose for a photo with the maids (photos are strictly forbidden within most maid cafes, as they are a lucrative commodity which is best controlled), and Eimi-San generously ordered one for me. I am, therefore, now a proud owner of a maid cafe photo, which has been drawn all over by one of the maids in what I imagine is typical maid cafe fashion.

It was incredibly interesting to watch the diners. Though some groups of both male and female diners were present, the vast majority of the clientele consisted of male otaku. Some were obviously regular visitors (judging by the way they exchanged nods with the kitchen staff) and I wonder what percentage of a maid cafe's guests are repeat visitors. Many, however, were newcomers like Eimi-san and I, who were at once shocked and amused by the pink, frilly interior, the cutesy food, and the singing, fluttering, petticoat, frilly apron and headband, decorated purse, and thigh-high clad maids.

The elevator was so packed every time it opened to the fourth floor that the maids directed Eimi-san and I, along with some other diners hoping for an escape, out the fire escape. We emerged unharmed and very amused.

Weigh In!

Maid cafes are...

See results

See one for yourself!

So far as I'm concerned, maid cafes are fabulous. What an amusing way to be served food and drinks!

If you're interested in visiting a maid cafe, you're in luck- you don't have to travel all the way to Japan! There are already maid cafes in New York and LA.

What do you think of maid cafes? Would you visit one? Do you think they could become popular outside Japan? Are they cute, or creepy? Share your opinion in the comments!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

        Simone Haruko Smith 

        7 years ago from San Francisco

        Oh man, leroy64! I'd love to go to the Heart Attack Grill someday! I don't think there are any Texas maid cafes... YET! I hope that changes soon.

        And please do, Erin Boggs1! That sounds amazing. And you're right- conventions, be they for comics or anime or something else, are great places to hunt otaku. You'd better get to Japan, though!

        Oh man, tirelesstraveler, sorry about the wasps!! Thank god for Benadryl! Love the stuff! Thanks for reading.

        Dude. Om. I would totally work for a maid cafe. How hilariously fun would it be???

        And thanks for reading, htodd!

      • htodd profile image

        htodd 

        7 years ago from United States

        Nice post..Thanks

      • Om Paramapoonya profile image

        Om Paramapoonya 

        7 years ago

        Sounds like an awesome place to be. Actually, it might be fun to work there and dress up as a quirky maid everyday for a month! Can you please write me a letter of recommendation? Oh but don't mention my real age! Tell them I'm 22. LOL

      • tirelesstraveler profile image

        Judy Specht 

        7 years ago from California

        What a hoot. You have brightened my day. I blame the huge dose of Benedrayl, I took after being attacked by wasps, for my inability grasp the Maid part of the title. Looks like a fun place to visit.

      • Erin Boggs1 profile image

        Erin Boggs1 

        7 years ago from Western Maryland

        I could give you a link to where I get mine. They are cheap and can be custom made to fit your body for 6 dollars more. I would love to go to this Maid Cafe, another cool place for otakus in America is the Comic-cons, they have a whole section dedicated to Manga, anime, and a cosplay party...Simone you have great taste and I envy that you get to travel to these awesome places...ah but one I will too, well I hope lol until then I will fulfill my dreams by reading your hubs.

      • leroy64 profile image

        Brian L. Powell 

        7 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

        The place kind of reminds me of the Heart Attack Grill, where the waitresses are all dressed as nurses so they can take care of you, just in case. I wonder if the Maid Cafe's have arrived in Dallas yet?

      • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

        Simone Haruko Smith 

        7 years ago from San Francisco

        OMG Arlene V. Poma. I totally love Hooters. It's so hilarious how they write your orders on paper napkins with sharpies! Hmm. I should go back. And daaang... now that I think of it, Hooters really is the American equivalent of a maid cafe. How depressing. America sucks.

        If you like campy stuff, leahlefler, you will LOVE maid cafes! I hope you have the opportunity to visit one!

        Dear ezhang. Agreed. Maid Cafe = next HubPages outing? Whaddya think, Maddie? Do you think they'll go for it?

        Yes!! I'm glad I have proof, Happyboomernurse! And to be honest.......... *I* would totally work at a Maid Cafe!! IT WOULD BE SO HILARIOUS!! Plus I love petticoats. And acting strange. Hmm... maybe I should start one.....

        I think they're only popular in Japan, FloraBreenRobison. But I hope that changes!

        You are beyond cool, Erin Boggs1!! I envy your costumes!!!!!

      • Erin Boggs1 profile image

        Erin Boggs1 

        7 years ago from Western Maryland

        Otako = me. (secretly has a Japanese school girls costume, this year I want to dress up like Lucy though.) Okay so I am beyond Nerdy lol

      • FloraBreenRobison profile image

        FloraBreenRobison 

        7 years ago

        I must have missed that news story, because this is the first I've heard of a Maid Cafe.

      • Happyboomernurse profile image

        Gail Sobotkin 

        7 years ago from South Carolina

        I think it's a good thing you had "proof" of your visit in the form of a photo or I would have suspected your creative imagination had gone into overactive drive!

        But your trip did sound fun as a one time adventure and I could see why you enjoyed it. You looked cute enough in that photo to even go undercover as a "maid" and possibly do an expose' one day about how hard the job is and how humiliating the costumes were aka Gloria Steinem's Playboy Bunny expose back in the 60's (or was it the 70's?).

        At first thought I didn't think something like these maid cafes could succeed in America but then again it's probably enough of a novelty to attract customers and with so many young women out of work they could probably find enough maids to staff it.

        Voted up across the board because this was a useful, fun, awesome, interesting and beautifully written hub.

      • Maddie Ruud profile image

        Maddie Ruud 

        7 years ago from Oakland, CA

        Yesssssssss! I was so hoping you would write a Hub about this experience. It sounds amazing.

      • ezhang profile image

        Edward Zhang 

        7 years ago from Bay Area, CA

        Dear Simone Ojouu-Sama,

        You are hereby forbidden to have any more fun without me! Have a nice day.

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 

        7 years ago from Western New York

        I think your visit to a Maid Cafe was really fun - of course, I am a sucker for anything campy. I don't think I'd ever visit one outside of Japan, but if I were in Tokyo, I'd have to visit one just for the experience and for the laughs!

      • profile image

        Arlene V. Poma 

        7 years ago

        Oh, nooooooooooooooooooooo Simone! I would not set foot in this Maid Cafe and slap $75 on the table for these young women to serve me. It reminds me too much of Hooters. Only these women are more creatively dressed for the occasion. If I was being served, by "butlers," then you're talking! Voted up, interesting and AWESOME for such a creative subject! WooHoo!!!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)