Sunday, 21 May 2017

Week 2: Living the Maidreamin

Akihabara: A Town Filled with Culture

Hello, everyone! Or as the maids at the cafe would say, "Nyaa~ Nyaa~!". This week the cafe tour crew headed to the electric town of Akihabara where we shared an experience that we will never forget. There we went to the Maidreamin cafe, one of the more popular and well-known maid cafes in Japan.

A Discovery in Electric Town
By: Alvin & Betty

We visited the Maidreamin in Akihabara on May 17th, 2017. It is a very common chain maid café in Akihabara that you can find different stores easily there. Maids in Akihabara stand on the roadside as showgirls to welcome their customers(ご主人様 お嬢様, master & lady). In a few years maids in Akihabara become more concerned with foreign customers, they will tend to ask what language the customers want and try their best efforts to ensure that they enjoy their trips in wonderland(夢の国.

Many people may expect they will receive special services which are different than what experience in a standard café, for instance customers expecting free pictures with the maids, however, that is not true. Everything you wish to do or do with the maid will have to charge you for a certain fee. For example, live band show and cocktail show. Furthermore, the café menus are generally more expensive, but it is expected.  After our research at the café, rather than interacting with the maids, customers are willing to spend some money to get out of the reality and settle themselves in the wonderland(夢の国)through an immigration process hold by the café which is to light up the “Dream Candle”(夢のろうそく).

After we have done some research, there is a slang in Japan saying メイドはアキバのアイドル, “ maid is the idol in Akihabara”, in fact, when we were visiting Maidreamin, there was a mini-live show which we saw customers actively participate in. Maids in Akihabara basically become the symbol and idol of all otakus.

A Maid Education
By: Alvin & Betty

After going to the Maidreamin Café, we have learned that working at a maid café is not an easy task. The maids should satisfy all appropriate wishes from masters and mistresses. For example, singing and dancing in a living performance (if it was requested), and always was nice and energetic towards the customers. During our stay at the maid café, we were lucky to have experienced a living performance first-hand. Although we can tell by her face that the maid who was requested to have the performance was tired of performing, she still tried her best to perform. The maids also taught us a magic spell that would make our food become more delicious in this wonderland. All you need to do was to say, “moe, moe, cute.” before eating. Furthermore, because of some of the customers' busy life, we learned that most of them went to the maid café to relax and enjoy their time there. A maid café brings different people with same the same interests to a wonderland. It also shows you how to respect each other and make your food and experience become more enjoyable and unique.

Maids and "Moe"
By: Marc & Chantelle

While searching for the Maidreamin cafe we found a lone maid outside handing flyers, seemly targeting male audiences and that's how we discovered the cafe. As we exited the elevator we greeted with "Irasshaimase, goshujinsama~!" (Meaning, "Welcome Master") by the energetic staff, all dressed in a maid uniform. Our waitress then went through the menu, filled with cute, animal-shaped foods and desserts. The common theme between the food and the cute girls in maid uniforms can be considered to be "moe" or the Japanese slang for someone having strong feelings towards a certain topic. Kinda like how we audibly awe when we see a cute puppy, but with a more general and stronger kind of emotion/reaction. Usually, you will find otakus (The Japanese slang for someone who is obessed with computers, anime, manga, ect. There is even such things such as military otakus and train otakus) using the term "moe", geared towards their favourite anime character, however, in this case the term can be applied to maids as well and it's interesting how much to an extent the maids are willing to go to be "moe". In our outing to the maidreamin cafe the maids would end their sentences in "nyaa", the Japanese version of what a cat's meow sounds like. Or how to get a maid's attention we would have to call out "nyaa nyaa". We were also given a live performance with one of the girls dancing and singing on stage all in the name of "moe". Of course, this really was meant to draw in customers, focusing on the "otaku" demographic though other parties may be interested as well such as curious tourists or a couple of salary men looking to relax and have some fun. For us, while there were some embarrassing moments, we still found ourselves caught in this moe wave and went along with the ride.  

A Unique Memory
By: Marc & Chantelle

We found out that courage is important for being a customer in a maid café because we could not treat maid cafés like the other kinds of café. Our common sense could not apply to the maid café. The atmosphere and rules in maid cafés are so different from the other cafés we have ever visited. Every action required courage and we would be put in a more awkward situation if we did not follow the rules. In maid cafés, customers act as masters and audiences to satisfy their desires of role-playing. When a customer ordered a live show of a maid, the maid is going to perform on the stage with an original song written by the maid café and dance performance. We had the chance of being wota(maniac) of idol performer and did wotagei (cheering gestures to support the performer). Although we felt awkward doing wotagei at the beginning, we were gaining confidence by the encouragement from other maids. As we ordered a set menu, a bunny ears headband was included in the set and we could bring it home. Many customers in the café ordered, and were wearing the hairbands, we decided to wear the bunny ears to enjoy the atmosphere. 

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