Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Maid Cafe in Akihabara - Tokyo, Japan

My most recent adventure was in Tokyo where I went to a maid cafe, as a curious female who wanted to observe a different side of Japanese culture.  My Japanese friend, a male, was surprised that I had been interested in visiting a maid cafe, but I never fully understood why.  In my mind, a maid cafe was a fancy, theme-based coffee shop.

On the streets of Akihabara, you may notice maids handing out flyers to potential customers - men.  As a tourist, you may not notice that men are being targeted because there are barely any women around!  However, a maid cafe is a man's world which I quickly learned upon stepping into one, as a female.  It was an interesting experience.

As a maid was walking by, I asked her about the cafe she was promoting.  She quickly took us there and announced that there were two females entering the cafe - my sister and I.  It immediately became awkward, as  I stepped into a smoke-filled cafe with men because I felt I was disturbing their "home."  It was a true sausage fest.

Supposedly, maid cafes are for awkward, nerdy men who have difficulty with women.  The mentality is that the customer (male) is the master and the maid is a subservient and obedient female that will cater to his needs.  I can understand that maid cafes may appeal to these types of customers, but the men I noticed weren't all nerdy and did not fit this image.  It seemed like a hang-out spot for all sorts of men, particularly younger ones.

While I was in the cafe, we ordered some food:  nachos and a chicken basket.  We also ordered some drinks. One thing you should know is that people don't go to maid cafes for the food!  It is the WORST food you'll probably eat, especially for the price.  For the four of us, we paid about $74.00 USD for crummy food.  The nachos were microwaved and tasted stale while the amount could fit into my palm.  The chicken was also microwaved and soggy.

Also, depending on how long you stay, you are charged. Some cafes will charge you every 15-30 minutes and others by the hour.  It's not cheap either, so be prepared!  Thank God we got out of there around 30 minutes, but I believe we got charged another $5.00 each just for being there a couple minutes longer (times that by four).

I was shocked to see that one item cost nearly $380.00!  Depending on what you order, the maid will "cast a spell" on your food (pretend, of course) or entertain you.  I wasn't sure what this entertainment entailed until I noticed a maid do a child-like dance for a customer where she sang and rubbed a stuffed animal on a man's leg.  I also saw a man being fed.  It seemed like men would tell the maid to eat something they ordered  too unless this was a part of the act.  I'm really not sure, but it was unique.

A maid cast a spell on my sister's drink, swirling her coffee with the words "make it good!"

As a male, if you are into this type of thing, you may enjoy the attention of maids at a maid cafe.  However, some of you may feel uncomfortable and uneasy, as you watch men being babied by maids in the most unusual ways while you sit awkwardly at your table eating the worst, most over-priced food  -  ever.  It all depends on your perspective and your reason for being there.

Now that I have been to a maid cafe, I completely understand why my friend was shocked that I was curious about visiting one.  It isn't the theme-based, upscale coffee shop that I imagined, but it plays on men's fantasies.  As a woman, it was interesting to observe a maid cafe, but I think I'll check out another themed-based coffee shop, although I was happy to experience this one as an outsider.  I think I will check out a cat-themed coffee shop next time!

Osaka Universal Studios - Japan

During the week, I decided to check out Osaka Universal Studios Japan!  It took me nearly 3 hours to get to Osaka from Nagoya, but it was worth it.

The tickets at Universal Studios are quite pricey, so I made sure I made the most of my time there.  Thankfully, the park was empty in the morning, so I had a chance to squeeze in a ton of rides without waiting too long.

I love all of the 3D and 4D shows and rides.  I nearly went on every single one.  Spider Man, Back to the Future, and Shrek were memorable.  Space Fantasy is also good unless you get motion sickness.

In "Space Fantasy," you are on a mini-roller coaster that twists, turns, and spins.  You have to store your bag in a locker because it will fly.  Don't forget to remove any hair pieces too.  

My favorite ride is Jurassic Park. You feel as if you are on a dinosaur cruise until it drops below.  If you are in the area, the "turkey bones" they sell at the kiosk outside of Jurassic Park are amazing.

Jaws is another great ride. I love how the Japanese get really into their roles as ship captains.

Waterworld is a show you may want to also see.  It was impressive!  Stay away from the bottom, middle rows if you want to avoid getting went.

Osaka Universal Studios is so much fun!  I really had a good time. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Harajuku - Tokyo, Japan

What image do you have of Harajuku?

Many of you may be familiar with Harajuku, a place known for shopping and eccentric fashion.  Gwen Stefani also popularized Harajuku through her brand, Harajuku lovers.

When I first stepped out of Harajuku station, my image of the town had been shattered.  Where were all of the costumes and the funky clothes?  I felt I was walking through Rodeo Drive! I was on the wrong side of Harajuku ...

A couple of streets over is what I was looking for ...

This is where you will be able to find affordable, cute, funky, eccentric fashion.  Just be warned that you will barely be able to walk because of all the people.  It's a popular street!

In the middle of the street, there was a place to eat crepes.  Since I was in Harajuku, I had to have one ... 

This man became an attraction.  Tourists got a kick out of this guy, although I heard some Japanese mutter how "gross" this man seemed.  I didn't know why until I noticed he stuffed his bra.

Here's one "cosplay" (costume) store in Harajuku.

More streets filled with shopping ...

Can you believe it?  A Forever 21!

The crowds at Harajuku were insane, but I was able to find some cute clothes there!  It can be tough to find some things because it takes some work, but it was worth the experience.

The Hachiko Statue in Shibuya, Tokyo - Japan

How many of you have heard of the film "Hachi," co-starring Richard Gere?  The movie is based on a true story that took place in Japan during the 1920s.  A Japanese version of the film had been created in the 1980s and had later been adapted into a Hollywood film in 2010.  

If you visit Shibuya Station, you will notice a crowd of people always around the Hachiko statue.  The statue represents an Akita dog, Hachiko, that used to wait for his owner every day, as he returned home from work.  However, when the owner, a college professor, had died of a heart attack at work and had not returned to the station, Hachiko continued to wait until his return not knowing what had happened.  Hachiko continued to wait for his owner for nearly ten years until passing away in the 1930s.  A statue had been dedicated in Hachiko's honor and remains a symbol of true loyalty.  

Tokyo Tower - Japan

During the weekend, I visited Tokyo Tower to take some photos.  Tokyo Tower reminds of the Japanese version of the Eiffel Tower, so it is an attraction that I wanted to revisit and take photos of as a keepsake.

I didn't have a chance to go inside this time, but I have in the past.  Inside the tower, there are a number of shops and restaurants.  At the look out, there is a glass panel on the floor that will give you a view of the ground below. If you are afraid of heights, I wouldn't recommend looking down through the glass panel on the floor, but it is a good experience.

If you are interested in visiting Tokyo, at the moment, entry into the tower is about 1,000 Yen.  Tokyo Tower closes earlier in the evening though, so this may be more of a day activity or one in the late afternoon before 7 p.m.


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