Top 3 Maid Cafes in Akihabara
Not all cafes are maid equal.
Think Akihabara, think otaku (anime geek) culture. Think otaku, think moe – a feeling of attraction for cartoon characters which has spawned an entire service industry dedicated to recreating the manga fantasy in real life.
Enter the “maid cafe”, a cafe concept where waitresses dressed in maid uniforms treat you like you are their very beloved employer or other role, depending on the theme of the cafe. Maids greet customers as “master” and serve cute food and drink (smiley faces drawn in ketchup and rice in the shape of a teddybear sort-of-thing), as well as performing a song or dance on the hour. Kinky or not, it’s hard to tell, but there’s no denying that maid cafes represent an important part of modern subculture, offering a unique taste of offbeat Japan.
The first ever maid cafe originated in Akihabara in 2001. Since then, a slew of similar themed cafes have opened up across Tokyo and other cities, as well as overseas in places like South Korea, Taiwan and Australia. As otaku culture moves into the mainstream, maid cafes are popping up in different forms; there’s butler cafes (male waiters, female customers), macho cafes, princess cafes and other role-play establishments that transform your average lunchtime into a surreal spectacle.
Most maid cafes will have a seating charge, which you have to pay even if you don’t order (and most places will require that you make an order as well). Customers are also limited to a certain amount of time and have to pay attention to a set of rules – in place to keep things as innocent as possible.
There are tons of options to choose from in the area, some more niche (read: dodgy) than others. Three of the best, these spots are safe and welcoming for tourists.
CURE MAID CAFE
Akihabara’s pioneering maid cafe, there’s much less noise here than other spots. This is more of an authentic experience – the maids in their Victorian-style outfits will serve you politely but there isn’t any singing or dancing. The food is a mix between Japanese and European cuisine, and as a plus, there’s no seating charge. If you’d prefer to have your meal quietly while still enjoying the maid experience, Cure Maid Cafe is a good option.
This popular chain of maid cafes has sweet, cheerful maids who never seem to stop smiling. Everything is cutesy. Everything is played up. The maids say “Welcome home, master!” in Japanese when you come in, sing and dance, draw pictures in ketchup and sauce on your meal, and chant cute incantations with you to make your food more delicious. There are seven different cafes just in Akihabara, ranging from full-on Valentine’s Day decor to stage-lit for mini concerts. Take your pick from the official Maidreamin website which has an English page.
JAM Akihabara is the most relaxed of Akihabara’s maid cafe. There’s no seating charge or rule that you must order a drinks. There is also an incredibly cheap lunch set for 600 yen that comes with a drink. You can stay as long as you like and enjoy the free wifi – a rarity in Japan – so if you just want to see a bit of maid culture but not have the full-on experience, go here.