Special FeatureExploring Akihabara, Japan’s Electronic Market
The entire retail district is like an immense toy box, a fantasyland near the center of Tokyo.
Written by Sakurada Yoko and Torikai Shin-ichi
Photos by Miyazaki Eriko and Kono Toshihiko
Young women in costumes right out of the world of animé and video games. What are they up to? Read on to discover the mystique of role-play cosplay.
The waitress is dressed as a maid, and she calls customers Go-shujin-sama (“My Lord and Master”) and O-jo-sama (“Your Ladyship”). We are in a maid café, watching a role play game. The “maid” idea came from the maid character in video games.
Tokyo’s Akihabara district has almost 40 maid cafés, practically jammed up against each other. The @home cafe chain operates four of them. Most customers are male. The secret behind the maid café success? The out-of-the-ordinary communication between maids and guests. When the maid brings your food and drink expect the unusual—she might use ketchup to draw a picture or write a word on your food, or chant magic words to give the meal more flavor.
“When we cast a spell, customers open up and join in the fun—it’s a really good form of communication,” smiles Hitomi, the star waitress at @home cafe.
The fanciful costumes and story-tale actions take customers into the wacky world of animé. Customer reaction is favorable and more women are coming to the cafés these days.