Cosplay Restaurant

Cosplay restaurants (コスプレ系飲食店 Kosupure keiinshokuten) are theme restaurants and pubs that originated in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan around the beginning of 21st century. They include maid cafés (メイドカフェ Meido kafue) and butler cafés (執事喫茶 shitsuji kissa), where the service staff dress as elegant maids, or as butlers.

Such restaurants and cafés have quickly become a staple of Japanese otaku culture. Compared with service at normal cafés, the service at cosplay cafés involves the creation of a rather different atmosphere. The staff treat the customers as masters and mistresses in a private home rather than merely as café customers.

Meido (メイド Japanese phonetic of maid) is also a jargon term amongst some otaku to refer to a type of stock female character in manga and anime. The characterization can have a cute or ecchi connotation depending on the writer. Most address their employers as goshujinsama(ご主人様) or ojousama(お嬢様) (especially the former. The latter is generally used for the employers' daughter).

The character differs from the traditional image of a typical housekeeper in being young, highly attractive, and usually wearing a maid outfit vaguely similar to a classic English or French design . In shōnen and seinen the outfit is almost universally fetishized: low-cut to show off the legs and chest, excessively colorful and/or frilly, and usually with white apron of variable length.

The types of characters who wear the costumes are often viewed dimly by fans as being an extreme take on the fetish combo of an 'ideal' housewife and an obedient servant, often with sexual connotations. In more wholesome terms, a fairly common device are meido harboring romantic feelings for their master or their wards (especially if they are younger).

Meido are often written in a comedic light, having employers with variably subtle embarrassing personality quirks which they put up with, having completely different personalities when "off the clock", or reprimanding their masters like children.

Many bishojo shows which contain scenes of characters in large households or doing spring cleaning inevitably produce art with the characters in these sorts of outfits.

The maids are often dressed in a combination of french maid-styled uniforms in attempt to look "moe". They also behave in a "cute" and "moe" manner. Sometimes, the maid outfit is augmented with cat or bunny ears. At maid cafes, most service staff members are female, and male jobs are typically limited to bar-backing and janitorial duties.

When a customer enters the café, the maids typically give an extraordinarily humble greeting, such as "Welcome home, Master" (お帰りなさいませ、ご主人様! Okaerinasaimase, goshujinsama) in order to play the role of a house servant. In order to enhance the illusion that the customer is indeed the master, they often serve the customer in a very deferential fashion. For example, staff sometimes kneel to mix sugar or milk in teas or other drinks. The purpose of the maid cafés and their service is to make customers feel as though they are at home and to encourage them to relax. Although exemplary customer service is typical of Japan, maid cafés take special care to pamper patrons.

Recently, with the maid cafe scene booming, additional related services have become popular. These include ear cleaning
(耳かき Mimikaki), a foot or hand massage, or a photography session (the customer typically rents time in a studio during which he can tell a maid which costume to wear and how to pose). Not only can you take pictures with the maids but also, certain cafe's have special performances. With the new game consoles, some cafes also have gaming time when you can ask your favourite maid to play with you but there are also traditional games such as "Jankenpon" (じゃんけんぽん)), which is rock paper scissors. Akihabara even features a "maid megane" (maid optician).

In imouto (younger sister) cafés, waitresses in uniform role play as the customer's fantasy younger sister. Similar to maid cafes, when a customer enters an imouto café, the "younger sisters" typically give an extraordinarily friendly greeting, such as "Welcome home, older brother / older sister!" (お帰り、お兄ちゃん/お姉ちゃん! Okaeri, oniichan / oneechan), dropping the Japanese honorifics keigo from speech (extremely unusual for waitstaff in Japan).

While most cosplay restaurants and maid cafes cater mostly to men, there is also a type for women called the butler café (執事喫茶 shitsuji kissa). The butlers in these cafes are well-dressed male employees and may wear either a typical waiter's uniform or even a tuxedo or tails. There are also cross-dressing (male disguise style - 男装系 dansō-kei) butler cafes, where female staff dress up as butlers, instead of actual men.