Fashion: Pink is everywhere, lace is everywhere, it’s the Lolita look.
But the real style de saison is dressing like a 19th Century French Maid. It’s weird, but it’s everywhere! Even white girls are buying in!
And so, of course, a world of maid-staffed businesses have appeared. They have maid bars, maid cafes, even maid foot massages… I didn’t visit any of these.
Well, maybe I kinda did…
Okay, to be perfectly honest, I kinda went to them all.
The opener was at Nakano’s Broadway Mall, a haven for geeky hipsters, with scores of shops selling maid costumes, princess costumes, and comic books. On the 2nd floor I found the Maid Foot Massage, probably the worst foot massage I’ve ever had, but also the most unique. The manager and his girlfriend perched beside Miko, excitedly quizzing me for the whole massage. “Where you come from?” “How did you find this place?” “You like maid?” “You must visit Akihabara,” Do-ichi the manager insisted, to eager nods from the two others. “Yes, they have many maids there!”
Akihabara’s a seedy world of pachinko parlours, comic book stores, and electronics shops, pretty much a geek heaven. And what’s a geek heaven without maid bars? It was there that I found MaiDreamin’ and my new pal, Rika.
Completely crowded, MaiDreamin’ was full of drunk salarymen, toasting, but also filled with geeky couples on dates, two women and their young daughters, and a half-dozen bubbly Japanese French maids. I was again the only gaijin, and was again treated like a novelty by the maids. (I was the novelty? You’re the one dressed from the 19th century, lady!) Pink and frills were everywhere, as were cutesy notes on the walls (“no photos” with a huge smiley-face cartoon), and photos of teen pop stars. When my beer came, Rika insisted I join her in a girly chant before I drink. “Oishii ku na ne,” we both shouted, “Mui, mui, mui!” I had no idea what it meant, but with each “mui” we had to make heart shapes with our hands. (David later explained to me it means something like “This tastes terrible! I don’t want, I don’t want, I don’t want!”) When my nuggets arrived, we repeated the chant, Rika giggling the whole time. This was like a Japanese Hooters without the strippers. And with French maids. It was awesome.
And I’m not sure who decided to put a big ol’ Statue of Liberty here on the Tokyo beach, but someone did. It’s disorienting. It’s brilliant. The beach only measures ~40 feet. It makes no sense. Crowds of school kids queued up around it. But I didn’t come to Tokyo for Americana. I came for pure Japanese awesomeness, so left it quickly.