Ultimate Guide to Visiting a Maid Cafe in Tokyo

By Team Japan Switch | May 10th, 2023 

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    Visiting a maid cafe in Tokyo (or anywhere in Japan, really) is one of the most unique and intriguing parts of Japanese culture, and nowhere are these establishments more prevalent than in Japan’s capital. These cafes offer a one-of-a-kind dining experience where patrons are served by waitresses dressed as French maids, complete with frilly outfits and playful personalities! They provide a fun and interactive environment where customers can immerse themselves in a fantasy world, enjoy some cute and cheeky conversation, and escape the stresses of the day. 

    Let’s take a look at the world of maid cafes in Tokyo, exploring their history, the different types of maid cafes, what to expect when you visit one, and much more. First-time visitor to Japan or seasoned traveler, maid cafes in Tokyo are a must on the hit list!

    This article is a part of our extensive series on Learning about Japan through Online Japanese Lessons at Japan Switch. (We also offer in-person Japanese lessons in Ueno - only 5 minutes away from Akihabara!)


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    History of Maid Cafes in Tokyo

    How maid cafes in Tokyo got started

    Maid cafes originated in Akihabara, a district in Tokyo known for its electronic shops and anime/manga culture. The first maid cafe, called "Cure Maid Cafe," opened in 2001 and quickly gained popularity among the otaku (obsessive fans of anime, manga, and video games). The concept of being served by waitresses dressed as maids was inspired by the "cosplay" (costume play) trend, where fans dress up as their favorite anime or manga characters.

    To learn why Akihabara is considered the “otaku-paradise,” check out the Top 24 Things to Do in Akihabara here!

    The evolution of maid cafes

    In the early days, maid cafes focused mainly on serving food and drinks. Over time, they evolved and offered more interactive experiences, such as games, photo opportunities, and other activities that enhance the customer’s experience. The maids’ playful personalities and willingness to engage with customers became a central part of the attraction of maid cafes.

    Popularity among tourists

    In the years since their inception, maid cafes have become a mainstay of Tokyo's otaku subculture, and have even gained mainstream popularity among tourists. Today, there are hundreds of maid cafes in Tokyo alone. While the popularity of maid cafes has waxed and waned over the years, they continue to be an important part of Tokyo's cultural landscape and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japanese pop culture.

    Visiting a maid cafe in Tokyo and a maid is sitting on a big beige sofa wearing a light teal dress with pink and white frills

    Commonly asked questions

    Why do men like maid cafes?

    For some, maid costumes and fantasy-themed décor are a way to indulge in their love of anime, manga, and video games in an immersive way. For others, the experience of being served by attractive women dressed as maids can be a form of escapism or fantasy fulfillment. The maids are often portrayed as cute and innocent, creating a sense of purity that some find attractive.

    The friendly and playful atmosphere of maid cafes can be a refreshing change of pace from the often serious and stressful atmosphere of work and daily life in Tokyo. The maids provide a level of personal attention and interaction that can be lacking in other restaurants and cafes or even in their personal relationships.

    Are maid cafes in Tokyo mainly for tourists?

    Though maid cafes in Tokyo are certainly popular among tourists, they are not exclusively for them. Many Japanese people also visit maid cafes to socialize and enjoy a meal or drink with friends or simply to chat with maids. Maid cafes have become part of the pop culture scene in Tokyo and are enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. However, customers at maid cafes may be on the younger side, especially anime and manga fans who are there for the cosplay and fantasy aspects of the experience.

    Do girls go to maid cafes?

    Yes, girls go to maid cafes in Tokyo, too. Maid cafes are often associated with male otaku culture, but they have become increasingly popular among female customers as well. Some maid cafes offer special events and menus aimed at female customers, such as "ladies' nights” or special menu items that cater to female tastes. Some establishments also have male maids or even butlers, which we’ll look at a little later in the article.

    Do the maids speak english?

    Yes, some maid cafes may have maids who speak basic English. However, there’s no guarantee that they will be able to speak fluently. Most maid cafes cater primarily to Japanese customers, so the maids typically speak Japanese. Cafes located in popular tourist areas or areas with a high concentration of foreigners may have maids who can speak some English or even other languages. It's always a good idea to check with the maid cafe beforehand to see if they offer any language support for non-Japanese speakers. Additionally, some maid cafes may have menus with English translations or pictures to help non-Japanese speakers order their food and drinks.

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    Types of Maid Cafes in Tokyo

    Maid cafes in Tokyo come in all different shapes and sizes and each has its own unique atmosphere and services. Here are some of the most popular types of maid cafes you can find in Tokyo:

    • Fantasy-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes take customers to a fantasy world where they can enjoy their meals and interact with the maids. Alice in Wonderland is a popular example where guests dine in the Mad Hatter’s tea party setting or at the Queen of Hearts’ table. 
    • Animal-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes are perfect for animal lovers and maids dress up as different animals such as cats, rabbits, or dogs. They will also serve animal-themed meals such as parfaits. 
    • Gothic and vampire-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes offer a darker, more mysterious atmosphere with maids dressed in gothic or vampire-inspired outfits.
    • Maid cafes with live performances: These maid cafes offer live performances by the maids, such as singing, dancing, or playing musical instruments.
    • Traditional-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes focus on traditional Japanese culture, featuring maids dressed in kimonos or other traditional Japanese outfits. Customers can also enjoy traditional Japanese tea ceremonies or other cultural activities.
    • Robot-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes feature robotic maids, combining technology and entertainment in a unique dining experience.
    • Schoolgirl-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes offer a schoolgirl fantasy theme, with maids dressed in school uniforms and serving customers as if they were their classmates.
    • Cute and colorful-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes focus on cuteness and vibrant colors, with maids dressed in colorful outfits and serving adorable food and drinks.
    • Historical-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes are inspired by different periods of Japanese history, such as the Edo period, featuring maids dressed in historical costumes.
    • Cosplay-themed maid cafes: These maid cafes feature maids dressed in different cosplay outfits, such as characters from popular anime, manga, or video games, allowing customers to enjoy a variety of cosplay experiences.


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    6 Popular Maid Cafes in Tokyo

    @Home Cafe

    This maid cafe is known for its friendly and cheerful atmosphere, and its maids often perform songs and dances for customers. Customers are able to request a commemorative photo with the maids, a signed polaroid of the maid who served them, or to play a game with the maid(s.

    Cure Maid Cafe

    As the first maid cafe in Tokyo, Cure Maid Cafe is a classic and nostalgic choice for visitors. As the first maid cafe in Akihabara, Cure Maid Cafe is a classic and nostalgic choice for visitors. They offer a menu with traditional maid cafe dishes such as “omurice” (omelet rice) and tea as well as a selection of desserts and hot food items.


    Pinafore is the self-proclaimed trendsetter of miniskirts and pink maid uniforms in maid cafes. There is only one cafe left in Akihabara. Pinafore offers a "maid latte art" service where customers can have a customized design drawn in their cappuccinos. You can also take a commemorative photo.

    Two maids from a maid cafe in Tokyo - one has long brown hair and one has black hair. The one with black hair is hugging the other from behind


    This chain of maid cafes has a variety of themes and styles, including animal-themed and Gothic-themed cafes. After 8:00PM, the maids transform into “party girls” and provide customers with a fun, lively experience!

    Maid's Room

    This maid cafe is known for its cozy and intimate atmosphere, with only a few tables available for customers at a time. The maids here offer personalized service and often play games with customers.

    Akiba Zettai Ryoiki

    This maid cafe in Akihabara has a unique futuristic theme, with maids dressed in outfits that resemble characters from science fiction movies. Known as the “world’s first cyber maid cafe,” the cafe also offers a range of food and drinks, including a special "alien omelet" with a green sauce and a cocktail that comes in a test tube.

    Note: In each cafe, the maids also have very different personalities and 'charm points' that add to the experience. For example, some maids are more outgoing and playful, while others may be more reserved and polite.

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    What to Expect at a Maid Cafe in Tokyo

    When you enter a maid cafe, you'll be greeted by the maids, who will welcome you with cheerful greetings and sometimes even a song. The maids will guide you to your seat and present you with a menu.

    Throughout your visit, the maids will engage with you in playful conversation and may even offer to play games with you or take pictures together. Some maid cafes also offer live performances by the maids, which can range from singing and dancing to more interactive activities.

    While you enjoy your meal, the maids will serve you with extra care, such as drawing cute pictures on your omelet or writing your name in ketchup on your rice. They may offer to cast a "magic spell" or a chant to make your food taste better.

    Something important to note is that customers are expected to follow the "maid rules," which include refraining from taking photos of the maids without their permission, speaking politely and respectfully to the maids, and refraining from touching them. In return, the maids will treat you with the utmost hospitality and kindness.

    Dress code

    While there is no strict dress code for customers at maid cafes, some patrons may opt to dress up in cosplay or other fun outfits to match the playful atmosphere of the cafe. Some maid cafes even offer rental costumes for customers who want to make the most of the experience.


    The cost of visiting a maid cafe in Tokyo can vary depending on the cafe and services offered. Generally, there is an entrance fee, which can range from 500 to 1,500 yen (around $5 to $15USD) per person, that includes a drink and some time with the maids. Some cafes also have minimum order requirements for food and drinks. Additional activities such as games or photo opportunities will likely come with extra fees. Cafes with more elaborate themes or performances may have higher entrance fees and require a reservation in advance.

    While everything seems fairly affordable from the get-go, the toll on your wallet can add up quickly. It's a good idea to research different options and set a budget before visiting. Some cafes also offer discounts for groups or during certain times of the day, so keep an eye out for campaigns and special deals!


    Check out our Ultimate Guide to Living in Tokyo on a Budget for how to make your yen go further!

    Rules and regulations

    It’s important to remember that maid cafes in Tokyo have specific rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, such as no touching the maids, no photography without permission, and no outside food or drinks.

    Each maid cafe may also have specific rules and guidelines for their establishment that customers must follow. Some maid cafes may require customers to purchase a certain amount of food or drinks before interacting with the maids or taking pictures. Other cafes may impose a time limit on customers to allow other patrons to have a chance to visit. These rules will likely be written somewhere (on a menu or posted on the wall, for example) and will likely be explained to you upon entry. 

    Most importantly, the maids are there to provide a fun and entertaining experience. They are not there for any kind of romantic or sexual interaction. Customers who treat the maids with respect and adhere to the rules and guidelines of the cafe will be sure to have the best maid cafe experience.

    Ordering food and drinks

    Ordering at a maid cafe can be a bit different from a typical restaurant. Here are some common phrases you can use to order food and drinks at a maid cafe:

    • Osusume wa nan desu ka? (What do you recommend?)
    • Meido-san, onegai shimasu. (Maid, please take my order.)
    • Kore o kudasai. (I'll have this, please.)
    • Arigatou gozaimasu! (Thank you very much!)

    With these phrases in mind, ordering at a maid cafe should be a breeze! If you really want to impress your maid, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Ordering Food in Japan.






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    Games and activities

    • Rock-paper-scissors batsu games (punishment games): In this game, you play rock-paper-scissors with a maid, and the loser has to perform a silly punishment, such as singing a song or doing a dance.
    • Drawing games: In these games, you can draw pictures with the maids and compete for prizes.
    • Memory games: Test your memory with a maid-led memory game, where you have to remember a sequence of actions or items.
    • Treasure/Scavenger hunts: These are adventure-style games where you have to follow clues and complete challenges to find hidden treasures.
    • Maid cosplay: This is an opportunity for you to dress up as a maid yourself and take pictures with the staffed maids. The photo ops are certain to liven up your Instagram!
    • Karaoke battles: Show off your singing skills in a maid-led karaoke battle, where you compete against other customers to win prizes.
    • Photo booths: Take pictures with the maids or dress up in costumes for a fun photo session. The most popular photo booth style is known as “purikura.” 
    • Puzzle games: Solve puzzles with the maids and you will get the chance to win some (likely cute) prizes!
    • Card games: Play card games like Uno, Old Maid, or some uniquely Japanese card games. If you’re a little on the shy side, this is a great way to interact with the maids and other customers.
    • Cosplay performances: Watch cosplay performances by the maids, where they dress up as characters from anime, manga, or video games and perform skits or dances.
    • Makeover sessions: Receive a makeover from a maid and transform into a cute or cool character.

    This list is by no means exhaustive. Do keep in mind, though, that the main attraction of maid cafes is the chance to interact with the maids in a playful and fun way. With so many different types of maid cafes in Tokyo, each with their own unique themes and styles, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

    Note: Certain activities may cost extra or require reservations, so be sure to do your research beforehand!

    A maid standing with her back facing the camera on the streets of Akihabra advertising a maid cafe

    Maid Cafe Menus

    • Omurice: A popular Japanese dish made with fried ketchup rice wrapped in a thin layer of egg and topped with ketchup or other sauces. More often than not, you can expect a cute, custom design drawn on top.
    • Curry Rice: This famous dish is curry with a side of rice but with cute designs made from toppings like vegetables and cheese. 
    • Pancakes: Exactly what you’d expect but with cute designs and toppings such as whipped cream, fruit, and syrup.
    • Maid-themed snacks: These include things like mini hot dogs or fries in cute shapes, like stars or hearts. 
    • Bento Boxes: These lunch box meals come with added details that make them more unique than regular lunch sets. They can be decorated with character designs and adorned with edible flowers and herbs.
    • Cute character-themed desserts and sweets: These will be based on the theme of the cafe, e.g. a parfait with a puppy design on top. 
      • Parfait: A layered dessert made with ice cream, fruit, and other sweet toppings, often served in a tall glass.
    • Drinks: many maid cafes offer a variety of cute and colorful drinks, such as fruit soda, tea, or coffee, often served with cute decorations like heart-shaped marshmallows or colorful straws.
      • Maid latte: A latte with a cute design made by the maid on top of the foam

    Maid cafes in Tokyo also offer special omiyage (souvenirs) and exclusive merchandise such as mugs, coasters, and keychains that you can purchase for yourself or as a gift. If you’re picking up some more traditional omiyage to take home with you, don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Omiyage here!


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    Dietary needs

    If you have specific dietary needs or preferences, be sure to check out the menu beforehand to ensure there are options for you. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you may have a slightly more challenging time finding somewhere that can accommodate your dietary needs. The situation is improving on that front slowly, but do check in advance. Most maid cafes in Tokyo which have websites (or Google profiles) will showcase their menus. Generally speaking, most establishments will offer similar menus in terms of food and beverages though.


    Maid cafes can vary in price, so consider your budget when selecting a cafe. For example, Pinafore has some of the most affordable prices for maid cafes in Tokyo, with most dishes and drinks priced at around 800-1000 yen.

    Finding the Right Maid Cafe in Tokyo for you

    With so many maid cafes to choose from in Tokyo, it can be hard to know where to start. Let’s look at a few factors that can help you make a decision!

    Theme and atmosphere

    As we’ve seen, other than the concept of ‘maids,’ each cafe will have its own themed offerings. @Home Cafe has a “Gamer’s Room” where you can play classic console games together with the maids. If you are interested in dressing up in cool/cute cosplay, consider somewhere like Cos-Cha. Animal lovers, please be aware that animal cafes are typically different from maid cafes unless explicitly stated that the cafe offers both maids and animals. (There are however a good number of cat, dog, and various other animal cafes around Tokyo too if that’s your thing!)


    Some maid cafes are located in busy tourist areas, while others are off the beaten path. For example, Maidreamin has multiple locations throughout Tokyo, including in Shibuya and Akihabara. We should mention if you’re feeling overburdened by choice, strolling around Akihabara might be your best bet. Maids will often stand on the street advertising their services and can guide you to their particular cafes.


    Check out our Ultimate Guide to Visiting a Haunted House in Japan and see if you've got what it takes to survives Japan's scariest attractions!

    How to find the best maid cafes in Tokyo

    Online reviews

    Sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp can be a great resource for finding highly-rated maid cafes and hearing what other customers thought about the experience. The added benefit here is that many English speakers use the sites to write their reviews so there’s no need to rely on translators. One example, Maidreamin, has over 2000 reviews on TripAdvisor, with an average rating of 4 stars.

    Local recommendations 

    Don’t be afraid to ask locals or other otaku, for their favorite maid cafes or consult with your hotel or hostel staff for recommendations. It likely isn’t the first time they’re being asked. If your accommodation is in Shinjuku, you can try asking the staff if they can recommend any maid cafes nearby and if they can call and ask about food or make a reservation on your behalf.

    Social media 

    You can also try searching for hashtags like #maidcafe or #maidcafetokyo on Instagram or Twitter to find photos and recommendations from other travelers. Most maid cafes are very active on both platforms (and recently, TikTok too). Many cafes will announce who is working that day and any unique services or campaigns they are offering on their social media page.

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    Making a Reservation at a Maid Cafe in Tokyo

    Making a reservation in advance is highly recommended for popular maid cafes in Tokyo, especially during peak hours and weekends. To make a reservation, you can visit the maid cafe's website, call them, or send an email. However, note that some maid cafes may not have English support so the reservation process may be entirely in Japanese. Our Useful Japanese Phrases article can help make sure you’re ready for the questions they’ll ask and know how to answer them like a native! 

    In the meantime, here are some phrases you might hear the staff ask while making a reservation.





    Nanmei-sama desu ka?

    How many people are in your party?


    Hizuke wa itsu ga yoroshii desu ka?

    What date would you like to come?


    Jikan wa nanji desu ka?

    What time would you like to come?


    Tokubetsu na rikuesuto wa arimasu ka?

    Do you have any special requests?

    Etiquette and Tips for Visiting a Maid Cafe in Tokyo

    Japanese girl in in a pink and white maid cafe outfit holding up her hand and waving

    Here are a few dos and don'ts to ensure that everyone has a great time when visiting a maid cafe in Tokyo!


    ✓ Do respect the maids and other customers
    ✓ Do listen to and follow the rules and regulations of the maid cafe
    ✓ Do participate in the activities and games that the maids offer
    ✓ Do take photos with the maids, but always ask for permission first
    ✓ Do make a reservation in advance if possible
    ✓ Do try the maid cafe's signature dishes and drinks


    ✗ Don't touch the maids or other customers inappropriately
    ✗ Don't take photos of other customers without their permission
    ✗ Don't bring outside food or drinks into the maid cafe
    ✗ Don't be late for your reservation
    ✗ Don't use flash photography or speak too loudly

    Cultural etiquette

    • When interacting with the maids, it is polite to use honorific language such as "-san" unless they specifically ask you to use “-chan,” which is more personable.
    • If you're not sure what to do or say, observe other customers and follow their lead.
    • When paying the bill, it is common to bring it to the cashier or maid station, rather than leaving it on the table. Also, bear in mind that tipping is not a common or expected practice in Japan.

    Additional tips

    • Bring cash - some maid cafes may not accept credit cards
    • If you're not comfortable speaking Japanese, bring a translation app. However, it is a great way to help you practice your Japanese speaking and listening skills (which we at Japan Switch can help with - check out our affordable offline and online Japanese lessons!)
    • Be open-minded and willing to participate in the activities and games that the maids offer


    Check out our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Customs for a deeper look into the many rich and beautiful customs in the Land of the Rising Sun

    BONUS: Maid Day, Butler Cafes, and Male Maid Cafes in Tokyo

    Maid Day / Meido no Hi

    Meido no Hi, also known as "Maid Day" or "Maidens' Day," is a holiday that celebrates maid culture in Japan annually on May 10th. Like many other unofficial holidays in Japan, the date was specifically chosen as 10 can be said as ‘do’ so May-do, meido, maid. You get it. On Maid Day, maid cafe aficionados  honor the role of maids and that of maid cafe culture. The first Meido no Hi was held in 2008 and has since gained popularity throughout Japan.

    On Maid Day, many maid cafes offer special promotions and events to commemorate the occasion. Customers may be able to enjoy discounted prices on menu items, special performances by the maids, or limited-time menu items.

    Butler Cafes and Male Maid Cafes

    Tokyo also has many butler cafes and male maid cafes for those of you curious about the other side of things. These cafes feature male staff dressed in suits or butler uniforms who serve customers similarly to maid cafes.

    Butler cafes typically have a more upscale atmosphere, with a focus on elegance and refinement. The male butlers often provide personalized service, addressing customers by their names and engaging in more formal conversation. They may also offer special services such as hand massages or tea ceremonies. 

    Some popular butler cafes in Tokyo include Swallowtail Butler Cafe, which is known for its Victorian-inspired decor and high-quality food and drink offerings, and Akasaka Butlers, which has a more modern and stylish atmosphere.

    Male maid cafes, on the other hand, feature male staff dressed in cute and feminine maid uniforms, catering to customers who are interested in a different kind of cosplay experience. These cafes often have a more playful and casual atmosphere, with male maids engaging in more silly and lighthearted conversations with customers. If this sounds like fun to you, definitely check out this great list of crossdressing maid cafes!

    Final Thoughts 

    Maid cafes are an integral part of Tokyo's pop culture scene, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for locals and tourists alike. If you're planning to visit Japan and want to really dive into the kawaii side of things, adding a maid cafe to your itinerary is certainly worth the time. Whether you're looking for a classic maid cafe experience, a themed cafe, or a unique twist on the concept, Tokyo has it all. Just remember to follow the rules and etiquette, be respectful to the maids, and most importantly, have fun! 

    If you’re looking for the best places to eat, things to do around Tokyo, and how to get around, check out the following guides for our staff recommendations!

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