Thursday, February 09, 2006

Meanwhile, in Japan

"Maid Cafes" are supposedly a big hit among the oppressed Japanese men:

Welcome home, Master," says the maid as she bows deeply, hands clasped in front of a starched pinafore worn over a short pink dress.

This maid serves not some aristocrat but a string of pop-culture-mad customers at a "Maid Cafe" in Tokyo's Akihabara district, long known as a Mecca for electronics buffs but now also the center of the capital's "nerd culture."

"When they address you as 'Master', the feeling you get is like a high," says Koji Abei, a 20-year-old student having coffee with a friend at the Royal Milk Cafe and Aromacare.

"I've never felt that way before."

Maid cafes dot Akihabara, which has become a second home for Tokyo's "otaku" -- roughly translated as "geeks." They're known for their devotion to comics and computer games and can easily be identified by their standard outfit of track suit, knapsack and spectacles.

In the cafes, girls dressed in frilly frocks inspired by comic-book heroines wait hand and foot on customers, mostly male, who might have once been obsessed with naughty schoolgirls and nurses.

At one cafe, maids get down on their knees to stir the cream and sugar into the customer's coffee.


"These cafes offer a chance for men oppressed in their daily life to escape into a fantasy world," said social commentator Tomoko Inukai, adding that the phenomenon hardly helped to promote gender equality in a largely male-dominated society.


"The concept of these cafes, where women who are physically and emotionally immature serve male customers, is not surprising given the fetish for young women among Japanese men," Inukai said.

Via Expository One.