Saturday, May 2, 2009


Akihabara has quite a reputation for its maid cafes, and rightfully so since at least one directory listed about 80 of them in the area. Basically, the idea is that the servers dress up and do a role play, either greeting you at the door as the "master of the house" or having some other theme (Heidi Club was modeled after the "Heidi, Girl of the Alps" TV anime, and the servers wore period Swiss clothing). Generally, the cafes serve run-of-the-mill foods like curry rice or hamburger steak, plus ice coffee and tea, at inflated prices. The reason for going to a maid cafe is to be able to look at the maids, it's not because of the food.

The competition is fierce, and the servers often have to dress up and hand out fliers on the street advertising their specific cafe. They used to work just in front of the JR train station, but lately have moved more towards the main Chuu-ou Dori street.

They've gotten very camera shy, and the local guide book maps have taken to printing rules of behavior for the tourists. Rule 1 is "no photos". Once, I was holding my camera, looking to take a shot of a building, and one maid saw the camera and hid behind a telephone pole until I was no longer in sight. I'm guessing that there are two reasons for this - first, the cafes make money selling photos themselves; second, stalking may also be a concern.

(Ad in the JR train station for "Cafe with Cat")

Funny enough, several news media groups ran a story on a recent event where maids carried a mikoshi (a small portable shrine) in Akihabara to promote the area, and the maids in the shots weren't camera-shy at that time. The shrine is currently on display in the information office of the UDX building on the second floor.

I took these photos before the "no photos" rule came out. Of course, you can always buy your own outfit and wear it around at home.


Shiroibara said...

You or your wife? JK :)

TSOTE said...


khoffy said...

Really cool stuff, very difficult to find such depth anywhere else. Keep up the good work. KJH.