At Home is an interesting ‘maid café’ in Tokyo. It is located in a regular apartment complex and completely furnished as a regular home. Maid cafés in general become increasingly popular and could be considered a new phenomonon in Japanese nightlife.
A while ago I discovered a couple of new Japanese culture and style blogs. Very interesting, since the Japanese are always up for new fabulous inventions, weird styles and crazy cultural dissipations. On Danny Choo’s blog I stumbled upon At Home and the so-called maid café hype. As a prototypical product of the modern Japanese urban culture, the true essence of these maid bars is perhaps very hard to understand for people who haven’t been at one and are not Japanese themselves. Like me. In a maid bar the waitresses are all dressed as a maid. Different form other bars these waitresses act like servants and treat the customers as masters.
The clothing the maids wear differs from bar to bar, but is mostly based on the costume of French maids. Sometimes, employees wear rabbit or cat ears with their outfits in order to add more appeal. “Maid cafés were originally designed primarily to cater to the fantasies of male otaku, obsessive fans of anime, manga and video games. The image of the maid is one that has been popularized and fetishized in many manga and anime series, as well as in gal games. But Slightly the formula opened up to other groups of visitors like couples, tourists, and women.”
The maid bars, that are a subcategory of cosplay restaurants, could be seen as perverse or obscene, as they focus on romantic or sexual desire. But they are far more appropriate in comparison to brothels. The maids play a role towards the client according to a complete set of rules. The client, for instance, never touches the maid or asks her for personal information. The relation between maid and client includes a whole set of rituals. “Maids greet customers with “Welcome home, Master (Mistress)” and offer them wipe towels and menus. Maids will also kneel by the table to stir cream and sugar into a customer’s coffee, and some cafés even offer spoon-feeding services to customers.”
The fascinating thing here is that the fantasy world of Manga and computer game players have lead to a complete new bar typology in the real city. The fantasy of the comics and games has come to life. And not only in Japan, but also in China, South Korea, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Canada and the United States.
The Japanese have a good sense for style. Here at the maid cafés it is combined with fantasy and bars, and recreated into a new business concept. I little bit comparable to the other remarkable Japanese concept of the love hotels, where design, fantasy, role-playing and entrepreneurship come together as well.