The Maid Cafe in Japan: a Surprising Universe

September 13, 2021 5 min read

maid cafe

Impossible to talk about Japan without mentioning the unique experience of the Maid Cafe. This concept is particularly popular in the Japanese culture and flourishes in all major cities of the archipelago. Thus, you can find them on every street corner in the Akihabara district of Tokyo.

Japanese people are very much into this type of animation, coming straight out of mangas and inspired by role playing games. You will certainly not find an equivalent anywhere else. At the Maid Cafe you will meet some funny waitresses and some surprising performances... So, are you ready to experience a completely kawaii and delirious moment 😹 ?

What is the Maid Cafe in Japan?

A Maid Cafe (meido Kafe) is a very popular attraction in Japan. It is a kind of bistro where young waitresses in maid costumes, looking like fictional manga characters, are constantly present.

As true actresses, the maids welcome the guests, engage in conversations, animate the evening while serving food 🥣 and drinks 🥤. Usually a menu with different options is presented. Thus, you can have lunch or simply have a dessert 🧁 depending on your appetite and order some entertainment. Before leaving, you are allowed to take a picture with your favorite maid. How adorable!

Originally, these atypical cafés are designed for otaku customers. This term, rather pejorative in Japan, refers to individuals passionate about manga and anime. In our culture, it is somewhat equivalent to the video game addicted geek 🤪 who never leaves his or her home.

Interior of a Maid café from the @HomeCafe chain

Interior of a Maid cafe of the @HomeCafe chain.

How does a Maid Cafe actually work in Japan?

The Maid Cafe concept consists of paying an entrance fee that usually includes a drink and sometimes a picture with the girls 📷. The proposed services are similar to those of ordinary cafés ☕ except that the interaction with the waitresses is at the center. These girls, dressed as maids, initiate a role-playing game to transport you into the world of manga and entertain you.

Each café has its own theme, some will focus more on conversation while others will prioritize animations or video games. It is important to note that the waiting lines are long and the time spent inside the Maid Cafe is often limited to one or two hours.

Due to this craze, various Japanese businesses such as restaurants and bars have greatly developed the concept of cosplay, which consists in playing a character (Maid and cosplay shop, cosplay restaurant...).

Maids, delirious waitresses

They are young Japanese girls with a cute appearance 😽, they are pretty, with childish features and a slightly naive character, that we can perfectly imagine coming out of a cartoon... which can be defined as "moe" in Japanese. In general, they are particularly joyful and euphoric.

Maid Café waitresses in their maid costume

Maid Café waitresses in their maid costume.

Maid outfit

The waitresses wear a maid's costume, usually consisting of a short dress, petticoat, white apron, a headpiece and stockings. The colors may vary depending on the café. In addition, the outfit is often adorned with ruffles or other fancy details for a sexy look. Maids often wear a wig with pigtails and ribbons in their hair to remind them of manga heroines. The uniform is completed with kawaii accessories such as cat, panda or bunny ears 🐼🐰.

Role of the waitress

The maid walks down the street, handing out flyers before leading customers to the café. She welcomes them warmly by calling them "Masters" or "Princesses" 👑. At each service, she performs a small ritual by asking to perform some gestures with her or to repeat a magic formula🧚‍♀ . Naturally, she gets very enthusiastic at the slightest "achievement" of her customer, just like an admiring young mother would do with her child.

Maid Cafe waitresses handing out flyers in the street

Maid Cafe waitresses handing out flyers in the street. (credit: japankuru)

So don't be afraid of the ridiculous and be self-deprecating, especially if you are asked to dance or sing in front of everyone. Besides, the totally turned on atmosphere can give the impression of being on LSD 💊. Total delirium for the Westerners.

Dishes 🍛 are presented in the shape of cute creatures 🐾 like little cats or teddy bears. The maid may also draw hearts with ketchup, chocolate or whipped cream ❤. She often leaves small attentions to customers such as a kind note or a souvenir.

Depending on the location, the maid will introduce activities such as board games, taking pictures, or light-hearted discussions. The goal being to entertain the customers while making them spend as much as possible 🍜. Be aware that all animations are to be paid and excessively expensive. At the end, you leave with a loyalty card that allows you to upgrade each time you come back.

Maid Cafe waitress proposing an activity

Maid Cafe waitress proposing an activity during the meal.

For otakus, it's sort of a Japanese fantasy, but contrary to what you might think, there are no sexual characters in the Maid Cafe. Besides, customers are absolutely not allowed to touch the waitresses. There are strict rules to protect the maids from ill-intentioned customers. That's the reason you are not allowed to take pictures or to contact a maid after her work.

The Maid Cafe customers

Although the concept mainly targets otakus, the public is particularly varied. From young lolitas, to families, to groups of friends and tourists, we are far from the cliché of the single pervert.

Most people are coming to this place, not just for the eye candy, but to immerse themselves in a kawaii and totally crazy universe 😝. However, the slightly erotic role of the maid, played by young girls is a bit disturbing for our western culture. Some of us may not approve this kind of place, especially when we have a feminist soul. On the other hand, you should know that there exists a male version of the Maid Cafe as well.

Maid Cafe customers

Two Japanese girls having their picture taken with a Maid Café waitress.

The different types of Maid Cafe

There are many Maid Cafes in Japan, all with different themes. Moe Meido and their cheerful waitresses are the most popular. As if the concept wasn't wacky enough, the Yandere Meido are cafes where the maids look depressed 😿.

Other places, such as Tsundere Cafe, have waitresses who are unpleasant to the core 😾 and mistreat you. Some push the concept even further and actually go as far as kicking their customers. Well, if that's what you're into...   Finally, the Butler Cafe are the male versions of the Maid Cafe with waiters 🤵 on the ball.

Posters in a Tsundere Cafe

What you should expect in a Tsundere Cafe. 😅

Among the most famous maid cafes in Japan, we can mention the famous @Home Cafe and its famous maid idols, or the Mai:lish Cafe and its theme nights, where we can meet Arisa, a very popular waitress in the capital of Japan. MIA Cafe is known to be the first place where customers can collect pictures of maids through a card game.

Most of the Maid Café are located in Tokyo in the Akihabara district where the otaku culture is very much present. You can also visit the Den-Town area in Osaka. If during your stay in Japan, you want to have a drink or a cake, while living an unusual experience, you have to count about 500 yens for the entrance fee and add to that at least one drink 🍨.

Kawaii sandwich offered at @homecafe

Example of kawaii sandwich offered by @HomeCafe.

Truly curious, the Maid Cafe is an absolutely hilarious concept that is very trendy in the Land of the Rising Sun. A funny, strange or at times even disturbing experience, the maid cafe will certainly not leave you indifferent.


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