September 20, 2005
Cafes in Akihabara: Maid and Linux
A few days ago, I saw a show on "Maid Cafes" - places where the staff dress up in Maid costumes, but otherwise normal cafes. There are apparently a lot of them in Akihabara. Admittedly, that is a very popular destination for their presumed target audience: Otaku, but there still seems to be a very large number of these things. There are at least 5 or 6 in Akihabara, and that was just after a quick internet search. I didn't think it was worth counting after seeing there were that many.
I resolved to go check one of these places out when I got a chance. I went to Akihabara today to pick up a cooling pad for my laptop since it has been getting very hot lately. I decided to get lunch at the first Maid Cafe I came across.
I found a place called Cure Maid and went in. I had a nice Tonkatsu Curry Set for 1000 yen. What really surprised me was the normalcy of the place. There were at least twice as many women in there as men, which was the big surprise with me. It seems like these are just normal mainstream cafes, where the wait staff happen to dress up. I think maybe some of acceptance might be due to the wide publicity the "Otaku" has been getting recently in the Japanese media, especially from shows like Densha no Otoko, but it is still pretty surprising.
While I was there, I saw at least two couples come in for dates. In both cases the girls in each couple were semi-cosplaying. One of the girls was wearing a very cute dress, most likely handmade, that was in an Alice In Wonderland theme. It had a cute hearts and spades pattern, and some cat imagery (possible Chesire-inspired, but it didn't look like the Chesire Cat to me.) Anyway, that was a bit more in-line with my expectations.
After making my purchase, I wandered around for a while and saw this sign for the Linux Cafe. Now that is some place that I would like to visit. Apparently, they offer free wireless with purchase, which is very rare in Japan. It is a place that I will try to visit on my next trip to Akihabara. I can't say that I go there all that often though, so who knows when that will be.
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Anyway, allow me to introduce myself: recently I visited the Pinafore Maid Cafe near Akihabara Station, in the heart of the Electric Town. Once I was inside, I was surprized to realize that this was just like a regular cafe, except the waitresses were wearing maid costumes. Maybe 60 per cent of the customers were regular Japanese -- groups and couples on dates, even a group of all J-Girls. Another 20 per cent were your classic A-Boy otaku -- you could distinquish them because they sat by themselves at the counter or were grinning at their tables like little kids set loose in a candy store, or Cheshire cats who suddenly find themselves amongst the pigeons. The other 20 per cent of the clientele seemed to fall within the boundary between otaku and normal dudes (I would consider myself to be amongst this group.) I have to add there were a few guys in Pinafore Cafe who seemed to be developmentally or mentally or psychologically damaged. It was sad to see them sitting at their tables by themselves lapping up at the attention from the maids -- but such is life, and such is Akihabara. Geek culture is built upon a backbone of social degradation. Guys who think they could never get a girlfriend in real life go to maid cafes in Akihabara. They are selling themselves incredibly short, but that is what they decide to do.
If you are planning to visit Japan, you should find time to visit a maid cafe in Akihabara. It will give you an idea of how wierd and whacky this place can get. I believe I have compiled the most detailed English language guide to the maid cafes of Akihabara -- if you want to check it out, click the link above.
Posted 18 years, 8 months ago by CodeRot • @ • www • Reply
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