One of the things Japan — more specifically Tokyo, more specifically Akihabara — is famous for is the maid café. Here pretty girls dressed as stylized maids will make and serve you food and drink, play games with you, and basically be as cute and attentive as possible.
Most people I knew assumed I’d been to one before, but the truth is that I’d been waiting. See, if I went by myself the first time, then it would be my story alone. Going with someone else, though, would make it a shared story. Thus, on October 1st, my friend Christian and I went to a maid café for the first time.
There’s no shortage of maids in Akihabara. They position themselves near busy intersections or out front of their establishments and hand out flyers or dance to anime music, smiling and generally being cute. You can also find girls busking for other themed cafés, such as ninja cafés or JK cafés (meaning 女子高生, or high-school girls), but the maids are the most numerous. Christian and I met up on a rainy afternoon, found a cute maid, and off we went. (From what I can tell, these girls are paid on commission, so if you pick a girl, she’s your maid.)
The café was called Queen’s Court, and had a very light fantasy theme (e.g. cola was “Witch Coke,” melon soda was “Green Soda”). Rather than tables, there was a counter (technically, two). Our maid, calling herself Noi, set us up with both Japanese and English menus, the latter of which was full of hilarious mistakes but much easier to understand. We both paid for half an hour of unlimited soft drinks (800円, while the hour of alcohol was 3000円). I ordered some seasoned fries, while Christian got a cheese omelet, the latter of which was hand-prepared by Noi. When she was done, she wrote his name on it in ketchup, along with a kitty face. He was in heaven.
With so many café choices, these places need a way to build loyalty. Queen’s Court accomplished this by first requiring guests have a membership card (300円 the first time). After that, you can curry favor with your maid in various ways, and everything costs. Play a card game with her, buy her a drink, tip her — the more you spend on the staff, the more points you earn for rewards later (and no, not those kinds of rewards).
After our thirty minutes was up, we said our thanks and got ready to leave, but not before they offered a photo (for a price). Christian was willing to foot the bill, so he kept the photo — taken with a Polaroid, by the way — but I saved a picture of it. We both agreed later to try a different one next time.