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Costumes make Maid Cafe a different experience

Date Posted: 2009-04-24

To call the Ichigobatake Maid Café in Naha City a new type of coffee shop is overstating the obvious.

There’s coffee, and food, and even service massages and reflexology healing time. That alone makes Ichigobatake Maid Café in Kumoji district different. It’s the look…the costumes…the way a customer is addressed, that makes a customer sit up and take notice.

Ichigobatake Maid Café has its waitresses dressed in maid costumes, many drawn from popular animation or game characters. Maid Café is new to Okinawa, but the concept first gained momentum in 2002, when the Japanese word Otaku, meaning a good person, but one who’s kind of a nerd or geek, began being bantered about. Add to that a cultural wave in Tokyo’s Akihabara district that spawned the term Akiba Culture.

Akiba Culture introduced the costumes, particularly maid style uniforms on women serving customers food and beverages in coffee shops. Quickly, the idea spread like wildfire across Japan, and the specialty shops featuring a costumed bevy of waitresses caught the news media’s fancy. From there, entrepreneurs began finding ways to carve a niche in the lucrative coffee shop market.

Enter Ichigobatake Maid Café in Okinawa. The costumes were the foundation, with waitresses being dressed as Catholic nuns, high school girls and Lolita’s. Ichigobatake Maid Café’s owner says there are all kinds of costumes in the line up, ready to surprise customers.

Another surprise is the way the costumed waitresses speak to the customers. They call customers ‘Goshujin-sama’ meaning something like Dear Master, or Dear Sir, or Dear Boss, or Dear Lady, or Princess. Names like that…all spontaneously spoken to individual customers. Ichigobatake Maid Café serves food and beverages, including alcoholic drinks, but also has picked up the highly successful massage element popularized in Tokyo’s Akihabara. It is, in fact, the first such coffee shop on the island.

Ichigobatake Maid Café offers an Ikkyuu-san Course for ¥1,000, a special that permits customers to bring their own food, but must order at least one drink from the café. Long stays are permissible, but each 30 minutes has a fee of ¥500. The Reflexology Course is ¥3,950.

Children under 18 are not permitted at Ichigobatake Maid Café. Pets are also prohibited. The café is located at 2-24-15 Kumoji in Naha City. Information is available at (098) 988-0266.

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