Along with seeing the cherry blossom (tick), eating raw fish (tick) and watching a sumo match (tick), visiting a maid cafe is a quintessential Tokyo experience. And there is only one destination for such a task: Akihabara – aka Electric Town – and a global mecca for manga, anime and gaming ‘otaku’ geeks.
Here, lurking among the anonymous streets brimming with the flashing lights of electric department stores are maid cafes: places where ‘otaku’ fantasies are fulfilled in the form of waiting staff dressing as fictitious characters. For a gentle introduction, the curious should head to Schatzkiste. At the gentler end of the maid café spectrum, it is more Little House on the Prairie than Akira.
The rustic-chic interior has large wooden tables, cosy alcoves and book cases filled with dolls and comics. But centre stage are the manga character-inspired staff: pretty long-haired girls with sweet smiles and black and white Victorian maid outfits complete with frilly headbands as well as cross-dressing girls clad as wide-eyed butlers make a fanfare of ‘serving’ tea and cakes to devoted visitors. Definitely one to tick off the list.