Japanese maid cafés are all about fantasy wish-fulfilment. By dressing waitresses up in maid costumes and having them address the guests as “Master” or “Mistress,” the objective is to make customers feel as if they were dining in their own luxurious mansions surrounded by loyal staff. As noted in our article about Tokyo’s first cyber maid café, as maid cafés have grown in popularity, proprietors have had to up their game to stand out in what has become a somewhat oversaturated market. Today, there are all sorts of spins on the traditional maid café formula available in Tokyo, with the top 5 can’t-miss examples including…
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, @home is the undisputed king of maid cafés in Japan, boasting locations in Akihabara and Osaka and employing 350 maids in total.
In the highly-competitive maid café market, @home has made their mark by putting all of their energy and attention into their maids, training them to be both actresses and singers of the highest caliber. Some of them have ended up becoming members of pop idol groups like SKE48, Dempagumi Inc. or CY8ER. The @home maids even managed to influence the Japanese language itself, popularizing the term “moe” (a strong affection towards cute characters from manga, anime or video games). It’s no wonder that the cafés attract over 500,000 visitors a year.
The Sengoku (“warring states”) period in Japan lasted from 1467 to 1600 and was a turbulent time when great warriors and feudal lords fought for hegemony over the country. In short, it doesn’t sound like the greatest theme for a maid café, but Mononopu actually makes it work. The Akihabara café’s gimmick is “armed maids” who don costumes reminiscent of one of Japan’s most violent eras and explain to the guests that if they break the rules they might be sentenced to “beheading” or “banishment.” It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, which is ultimately what Mononopu is all about: goofy and innocent fun.
According to the café itself, “Shangrila believes that plump is the origin of moe.” Priding itself as being Japan’s first plump maid café, this Akihabara establishment employs full-figured, chubby girls as maids who are just bursting with “bositive” (“body positive”) energy.
The café’s mission is to push the message that you don’t have to be skinny to be cute, and they are willing to back up that conviction with one of the tastiest maid café menus out there. Shangrila actually employs an Italian chef who prepares all of their dishes, including authentic brick oven-baked pizzas.
Meaning “treasure chest” in German, Schatzkiste, also found in Akihabara, styles itself as a private little library operated by maids. As such, their décor is more refined and elegant and the atmosphere quieter than in other similar establishments. “Classic” is really the best way to describe it, with the café being a great place to escape the noises of the big city while enjoying Ceylon tea and treats prepared by hand by the café maids.
Schatzkiste is a place of relaxation, so the maids wear long dark dresses with white aprons, do not take pictures with the customers and don’t sing for the guests. But if you’re looking for a quaint place to sit back and recalibrate, then Schatzkiste is the place for you.
アメブロを更新しました。 『最近の自分の中の流行りはスクフェスです！』 https://t.co/PFBnoV6h9W
— 秋葉原 ザ・グランヴァニア (@The_Granvania) July 6, 2019
What sets Granvania (located next to Akihabara Station) apart from the competition is that it didn’t start as a maid café. That’s why, much like Shangrila, they put a lot of emphasis on their food and drinks.
Granvania is meant to resemble a European tavern or beer hall, and to complete that illusion, they serve 30 varieties of European beer, as well as all sorts of other alcoholic drinks and dishes. The café is also one of the most reasonably priced maid cafés in Tokyo, with weekday lunch set specials allowing you to have a decent meal there for less than ¥1,000. Throw in daily events where guests interact with the maids and you end up with a one-of-a-kind maid café.