Special FeatureThe Cute World of Kawaii
A wacky world where customers are lords of the manor
"Moe~" was awarded a major prize as one of the most attention-getting buzzwords of 2005. It began as a slang word among young geeks with a passion for anime, video games and pop idols. One time to say "moe~" is when you are swept up in a moment of euphoria about your favorite cartoon characters or pop idol.
The strange thing is, this geek word ended up in everyday vocabulary. The reason: those geeks were frequenting maid cafés, which were also attracting a lot of attention from mainstream society.
Maid café waitresses are dressed, naturally enough, as maids. Inside the café you are in a different world — with their lace frilled hats and their apron dresses, the "maids" could be out of 19th century England. The customers? They are treated like lords. The idea probably came from maid characters in video games.
In some cafés, when a male customer enters he is greeted with a "Welcome home, sir!" One of them confides, "It gives my eyes and spirit a rest when I see them. It's as if they're not part of the everyday world of humans. They're more like cute dolls moving about."
Café Mai:lish in Akihabara pioneered the maid café fad, and that is where you will find Alisa, one of Japan's most famous maid waitresses. She always has a sweet smile and is completely at ease in her role, whether talking, gesturing or moving about. She has lots of fans from all over Japan, and is an inspiration for young women who want a job like hers.
"I love the costume, I love the fancy interior here, and I really enjoy working with the other waitresses, being pleasant to our guests, seeing them enjoy the ambience with us. There's a lot here to make life worthwhile — it's a special place for me, a place that is really kawaii (sweet, naive)."
The customers keep coming, eager to experience the thrill of "moe~."