Only In Japan

Friday, November 17, 2006

Food, drinks... And a twist.

So you're going to travel to Japan. From what you must have heard, the food is going to be all sushi, tempura, ramen, plus a lot of weird stuff, right?

It can be... But it can also be much more fun that that. Consider, for example, the "Moe" Maid Cafes...

The "Moe" Maid Cafes are a fairly recent invention. Basically, it's a regular cafe where the waitresses are cute young Japanese girls wearing lacy French maid outfits and treating you with the utmost respect; the kind of respect a 19th century affluent French bourgeois would command from his servants. Depending on the place, the food and cakes will be plain to good, but it will always emphasize cuteness and girlishness (think lots of strawberries...). Yes, it's a little kinky, but do you really mind?

The "Moe" phenomenon originated in Tokyo's notoriously geek-friendly district of Akihabara, but has now spread to most major Japanese cities. And while the original target customer for Moe cafes was neurotic otakus (technology geeks), the concept has been so succesful that nowadays all kinds of people visit these cafes, just because it's cute and fashionable. Chances are, you won't even stand out too much...

A cup of coffee at a Moe cafe will probably cost you more than at the ubiquitous Starbucks, and the exquisite politeness of the maids will probably be partly lost on you (unless your Japanese is REALLY good), but the weirdness of the experience is certainly worth your Yen. Without revealing too much, let's just say that the Moe concept has been really well-thought, with great attention to detail and finesse of execution... Well, as usual in Japan.

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