“What’s up with this fascination for Japanese girls in maid outfits?” Kim asked.
Masako laughed. “In the maid cafes, the girls will treat you like a king. The Japanese businessmen love them. When you go inside, the girls will say, ‘Welcome home, Master’ in Japanese, then dote on you the entire time you’re there.”
“Do they do, um, anything else?” I wondered.
“NO Mike. Get your mind out of the gutter.”
“What? What?” I shrugged. “I was just wondering. Here are these girls dressed up in maid outfits with short skirts, calling you Master and all that. And I know how kinky some of these Japanese men are…” I winked.
“Hehe, that’s true. You’ve got a point there.”
“Would you guys like to try out a maid cafe?” Pavan asked.
Kim and I looked at each other. “Sure!”
Masako smirked at Pavan, then turned to us. “We can find Japanese girls in maid outfits standing on the street, handing out flyers for their maid cafe.”
We walked a few blocks in Akihabara without seeing any Japanese maids. We did see lots of anime (and its dirty cousin, hentai) shops though.
“Maybe we should try looking online,” Masako suggested. Pavan took out his mobile phone and began a search. She spoke to him in Japanese as they tried to find a nearby place.
“Kinky,” I muttered as I peeped into a nearby hentai shop.
“This stuff is so weird,” said Kim. She was also peeping in.
Masako joined us. “Yea. There are some strange fetishes in the Japanese culture, all right.”
“Kinky,” I repeated.
“Found one.” Pavan pointed down the street. “Follow me. This way.”
We walked down a maze of streets and backtracked a few times. Finding places in Tokyo can be really tough. Many streets aren’t labeled; many buildings aren’t numbered. Addresses give you only a general idea of where the place is located. Even the Japanese locals have a hard time finding specific locations.
Eventually we found one. It was hidden in an alley and up a narrow flight of stairs. I couldn’t help wondering if we were about to be kidnapped and have our kidneys stolen.
“I think this is it!” Pavan declared. At the end of a narrow hallway was a door with a red light glowing behind it.
“Um, this is just a maid cafe, right?” asked Kim. “They just serve drinks and stuff, right? Nothing else?”
Masako laughed. “Don’t worry, there’s nothing to worry about! They just try to be discreet because these kinds of place aren’t openly socially accepted.”
“Okay,” Kim said hesitantly. She trailed behind us. I was towards the front.
Pavan opened the door. A young Japanese girl, who looked to be barely legal and dressed in a maid outfit, greeted us enthusiastically. She bowed and bid us to follow her. We did as we were told.
Once inside, it looked like a dimly lit dive bar, only much cleaner. The place was tiny. There were three men at the bar and four empty tables behind them. We took one of tables.
Another Japanese maid came by and handed us menus. She looked a little older, just about legal. She also had on what looked like cat ears.
I looked at the bar. The bartender was another barely legal teen with the shortest maid outfit amongst the girls, plus another pair of cat ears.
“Um, what’s up with the cat ears?” I asked.
Masako laughed. “Funny you should notice that. Some Japanese people find those cute. These girls will sometimes wear cat or bunny ears.”
“What do you want to drink?” Pavan asked.
“Beer for me,” I answered.
“I’ll take a beer too, I guess,” Kim added.
“Maybe just some tea.”
Pavan ordered three beers and a tea. The Japanese maid bowed eagerly and scurried off. I watched her cat ears bob up and down.
“So what happens now?” I asked. “Do they start dancing or getting nekkid or anything?”
“Mike!” Masako’s eyes flared.
Pavan laughed. “Unfortunately, it’s not that kind of place.”
Kim adjusted herself uneasily in her seat.
“Okay, seriously. Like, what’s the appeal of a place like this? We get to see girls with maid outfits and cat ears. What else?”
“Well, it’s mostly about the attention the girls give to their patrons,” Masako explained.
Pavan added, “If just you and I came here, they would be hanging around with us, talking to us, and acting all cutesy.”
“And that’s about it?”
“Yup. That’s it.”
“Mike, you sound disappointed,” Masako noticed.
I laughed. “Nah, just surprised. This sounds a lot like Hooters in America, basically. Mixed with a Korean club. Only a lot harder to find and with kinky cat ears.”
“I think you were expecting something really raunchy and dirty, weren’t you?”
I smirked and watched the bartender lean forward while talking to a patron. “I suppose, after a long day’s work, some guys just want to kick back and live in a fantasy world for a bit.”
“Are a lot of these men married?” Kim asked.
“Oh sure, many of them,” Pavan answered. “This is a form of ‘safe’ entertainment, if you will. They’re not openly cheating on their wives, even though they’re enjoying the company of another woman. It’s not a huge thing in Tokyo, but there’s certainly a sub-culture that likes it.”
“And now we got to see it,” I said. “Gosh, I feel so… dirty.”
“No Mike,” Masako corrected. “If we went to a place like you were expecting, THEN you’d feel dirty.”
Have you ever been to a Japanese maid cafe?