Okaerinasaimase goshujin-sama, ojou-sama! (Welcome home master, milady!)
So when I say maid cafe, what pops into your head? Probably something cute? Maybe sexy?
Most people imagine the typical super cutesy young girl dressed in a short puffy maid costume. And with maid cafes popping up throughout the world, this is the most prominent style that’s spreading. But the truth is, that’s only one type of maid café out there. Maid cafes have dozens of different types to choose from, making it easy to appeal to a wide range of clientele. Just one thing remains the same: the specialized service to create a relaxing and hospitable environment.
So what variety could such a niche market like maid cafes provide? Quite a bit actually. Here’s a list of some of the most popular, crazy and unique styles of maid cafés. Maybe you’ll find one that suits you…
Moe Moe Style Maid Café
The “moe” style café is the most common of the maid cafes. Moe is a Japanese slang word that usually refers to feelings of affection and adoration. These are the cafes that feature cute, bubbly maids dressed in puffy French maid outfits. When talking about “maid idols,” they usually emerge from this moe style (maid idol music has a very “cutesy” element to it). Love chants, games and dance/singing performances are popular here. Inside this café you can normally expect vibrant colours with cute decorations.
Popular Examples: @home Café, Dreamin Café
Classic/Victorian Style Maid Café
The Classic/Victorian style café describes exactly what it is: a Victorian style café. At these cafes, maids dress in longer skirts and have very little “cuteness” factors to them. They dress in what resembles an old-fashioned and modest Victorian maid outfit. Inside this café you can usually expect a very quaint layout, with antiquated touches. Fun fact: the first ever permanent maid café (Cure Maid Café) was in this style!
Popular Examples: Cure Maid Café, Café White Rose
School Girl Maid Café
The School Girl style is self-explanatory: all the maids are dressed in school girl uniforms. Some people debate whether these really fall under the “maid café” category, since they aren’t technically dressed as maids. However, I chose to include them because they follow the unique style of service that are essential to maid cafés. At this type of café, things like games with school-like punishments for the loser are sometimes played. Inside this café you can expect it to be decorated like a room from a school, whether a cafeteria or classroom.
Popular Example: Cos-cha Café
Modern-Traditional Style Maid Café
This style café usual has a range of costumes, from very traditional kimono to a cross-mix between kimono and maid outfits. Some cafes choose a certain time period (in Japanese history) and try to replicate it with their décor and outfits, though most usually give a modern twist. Inside the café you can expect it to reproduce whichever time period or historical events the café wishes to embody.
Popular Example: Mononopu (Warring states era-theme)
Train Theme Maid Café
Though not overly popular, the train maid café is for those who love trains and subways. The girls will usually wear a cross between a stewardess and maid outfit. For the inside of the café you can expect it to be decorated to look like a train, with the seats of the café made to look like ones from a train. Fun fact: Seibu Railway Group opened up a train maid café on board an actual train line in order to increase traffic!
Popular Example: New Red Arrow Train on Seibu Railway
Tsundere Maid Café
Tsundere is a Japanese term for a character who is initial cold and hostile, but eventually as you get to know them they show a warmer side. So a Tsundere maid café is one where the maids are tsundere…meaning they are usually pretty mean. You can expect them to ignore you, act upset and huffy when you try to order, even haphazardly toss your orders on the table. More likely than the usual “Welcome home master,” you’ll be greeted with “What are you doing here?” And I wouldn’t ask them to draw anything cute on your food, unless you want the word “annoying” written across it. The inside of the café you can usually expect to look like a regular café, just beware of the maids with attitude! Why would anyone want to go to a café like this? I don’t know, but maybe it’s up your alley?
Neko Maid Cafe
Neko means cat in Japanese. These are not to be confused with cat cafes where you can go and play with real cats. At Neko cat cafés, the maids will wear cat ears and tails along with their regular maid outfit. Other than that, the only real difference is you’ll hear a lot more “nyan” (the sound a cat makes, equivalent to the western “meow”) with everything the maids say. There are also usagi (bunny) or inu (dog) cafes as well, but neko is by far the most popular! You can expect the inside of a café to look like any other maid café.
Little Sister Maid Café
The little sister maid café is one in which all the maids act as if they are you’re little sister. Each maid will usually portray a persona, a cute sister, a clingy sister, a stuck-up sister, etc. This type of café takes it a step further to make you feel at home. The idea is to feel like you are hanging out at home with your little sister. The maids will call you “onii-san” (big brother) or “onee-san” (big sister) instead of master or milady. You can usually expect the inside of this café to be warm and inviting, invoking a homely feel.
Popular Example: Nogami
Android Maid Cafe
This is one of the newer styles of maid cafe. At this cafe, the maids are meant to replicate Artificial Intelligence, in both attire and attitude. Guests can “program” their maids to be equipped with specific personality types. You can probably expect the inside of this cafe to seem futuristic.
Popular Example: The Android Idol Cafe
“Theme Days”: Some maid cafés offer “theme days” in which one day is chosen to portray a specific theme. Popular themes at maid cafes can include:
- Neko (cat): Just like a Neko Maid café except its only on certain designated days that the maids dress like cats.
- Megane (eye-glasses): The only difference is all the maids will where eye-glasses. This is an extremely popular theme as “glasses characters” are a huge hit in Japan.
- Little Sister: A regular maid café will sometimes choose just one day where all the maids will act like little sisters, unlike the Little Sister maid cafes where they act like that all the time.
- Anime: Some cafes will choose a specific anime to portray. Sometimes the maids will cosplay as characters, sometimes they will just decorate the café with the anime paraphernalia.
I’ve added these under special mention because many people still argue whether they should fall under the “Maid Café” umbrella. They are the Cosplay Café and the Butler Café.
Cosplay Café: A café where all the waitresses dress in costumes according to whatever theme their café portrays. Most often they are based after anime or video games, so the waitresses will reflect those characters.
Butler Café: Instead of wearing maid outfits, the waitresses are dressed as male butlers. There are male butler cafes (which usually cater to women) or cross-dressing butler cafes (in which females cross dress to look like male butlers). However, the essence of the Butler Café is the same as any Maid Café.