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Cosplay Cafes in Akihabara

Updated on October 23, 2011

Akihabara is the ultimate place for otaku- those who love anime, manga, and idols, as well as electronics. In my book, a visit to Tokyo is incomplete if one neglects to visit this fascinating neighborhood!

Easily accessible via the JR Yamanote line, as well as several subway lines, Akihabara sometimes goes by the name "Electric Town" as it started off as a great place to buy inexpensive electronics and other appliances.

In recent years, Akihabara has become a center for otaku culture, catering to major anime and manga enthusiasts, in addition to serving as the headquarters for AKB48, a famous Japanese idol group. As the otaku aspect of Akihabara gained precedence, cosplay cafes began to spring up all over the place. Now, the neighborhood is positively swimming in them!

Akihabara Cosplay Cafes

Cosplay cafes are restaurants in which the waitresses dress up in costume and serve you in character.

The most popular type of cosplay cafe is the maid cafe. In a separate article, I wrote about what it is like to visit a maid cafe, but the gist is this: the waitresses, dressed in fluffy maid costumes, refer to you as master, bounce around the (cutely-decorated) cafe, and frequently break into song or say embarrassing but adorable and very moe-inducing things when they serve you food or take your order.

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Some maid cafes have adapted from the simple maid-centric format to incorporate other otaku-beloved facets of games, manga, and anime, such as the character development process known as tsundere, in which a character starts out cold but eventually warms up to you. In tsundere maid cafes, waitresses initially greet you with scorn, don't heed your orders, and serve you angrily, but get clingy and lovey-dovey when it's time for you to leave.

Other cosplay cafes adopt similarly otaku-frendly themes, such as schoolgirl themes, little sister themes, or popular anime series themes.

Right next to Akihabara station, for example, is a Gundam cafe. There is also an AKB48 cafe, which, at the time of my visit, was so popular that visitors needed to line up and get special tickets just to enter.

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Popular Cosplay Cafes in Akihabara

On the streets of Akihabara, you will find no shortage of cute girls in costumes promoting their cosplay cafes, but some themed costume restaurants are more well-known than others. Here are the most famous ones:

  • @home cafe: @home is located in the Don Quijote complex, a building in Akihabara stuffed with strange discount stores where (as it just happens) the Japanese idol group AKB48 performs almost nightly. Because of its famous location, this cafe is particularly well-known to tourists, but also involves one of the longer waits
  • Cure Maid Cafe: This is the first maid cafe ever, so if you are big on seeing the 'original' everything, this is your best bet. This cafe offers a soothing atmosphere with greenery, classical music, and more formal waitresses (who aren't like those at other cafes which behave more dramatically and chant over your food). It's on the 6th floor of the Gee Store.
  • Schatz Kiste: Located on the first floor of the Hasegawa building, Schatz Kiste is relatively small (with only 30 seats), but offers visitors the ability to get their nerd on! You can draw manga, build manga, and talk with like-minded otaku here.
  • Cos-cha: If you're looking for a varied costume experience, Cos-cha is a good bet. They have different themed days (including "school swimsuit" day) with a 'back to school' focus. As an added bonus to all the creeps out there, Cos-cha even offers spoon-feeding service. You can even pay extra to have one of the waitresses mix together a disgusting drink and challenge you to down it. Yay. You'll find this place on the second floor of the Soto-Kanda building.
  • Nagomi: If you're more into role play, you might like this cafe (located on the second floor of the Zenitani building), which has a "big brother" theme, which is to say that the waitresses pretend to be your little sister. Nagomi sometimes offers tsundere nights, so you can get a taste of that odd character development process in action.

A markerakihabara, tokyo -
Akihabara, Taito, Tokyo, Japan
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Other things to do in Akihabara

In addition to visiting a cosplay cafe in Akihabara, I encourage you to just walk the streets and do some people watching. If you're looking for some cool new gadgets, anime, or manga, this is also a great place to shop. And if you want to buy some inexpensive costumes to get your own cosplay on, visit the Don Quijote building.

If you're an AKB48 fan or want to see what it's like to watch a bunch of young women perform in front of a crowd of otaku, visit their official site to reserve tickets (they have a special application process for foreign visitors). If I go back, I shall definitely try to make it out for one of their shows.

I also recommend visiting Akihabara on Sunday afternoons, when they close off the main street to autos, and on evenings, when the amazing lights and sounds remind you why they call Akihabara "Electric Town" in the first place.

Have you been to Akihabra? What did you think of it? What would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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    • profile image

      Indigital 5 years ago

      If only had the money, I would. Your love and knowledge of Japan really is inspiring!

    • Erin Boggs1 profile image

      Erin Boggs1 5 years ago from Western Maryland

      I definitely want to Akihabara. I have learned Japanese in my spare time in hopes to visit japan. I love all of these hubs that you have been writing. Definitely voting up!

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

      Manga? Otaku? this is like Japanese to me :), no clue of what that is.....

      The cosplay cafes sound interesting, I'll keep them in mind for when the opportunity arises to visit Tokio.

    • leahlefler profile image

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Great hub, Simone, and the video is GREAT! It is like a little documentary about cosplay and the maid cafes - I love it! Japan is definitely on my bucket list. Hopefully I'll get to Tokyo one of these days!

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      I love your Hub and video, but I am still waiting for the BUTLERS, no? Voted up, useful, interesting and AWESOME for the Maid Cafe coverage. Hmmmmmmmm. They didn't have the Maid Cafes when I visited Japan, but that was decades ago! Looks like I have something to look forward to when I visit.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I hope you have the opportunity to see Japan for yourself someday, Indigital!

      Thank you so much, Erin Boggs1! You really must go. You've got to put that Japanese to use! Props on learning some in your spare time! I've been wanting to do that myself, but have been too much of a lazy little worm.

      Do keep the cosplay cafes in mind, Claudia Tello! And looks like I should write some Hubs on those words... thanks for bringing that up!

      So glad to hear Japan is on your bucket list, leahlefler. I hope that you get to go there soon! Thanks for the kind words.

      And here's the awesome thing Arlene V. Poma- THERE TOTALLY ARE BUTLER CAFES!! They're mostly in the Ikebukuro neighborhood of Tokyo, but they exist. I just didn't have the opportunity to check one out... and if I DID go to one, I would probably pass out, have a seizure, and make a total fool of myself.

      The whole cosplay cafe trend is relatively new, though. Even when I was last in Tokyo less than three years ago, it was NOTHING like it is now. Sounds like you'll need to head back to Japan!

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      Oh, heart be still! There are Butler Cafes! Woo Hoo!!!

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 5 years ago from Bradford

      Well that is just great in the UK we have some big ape with a sandwich board. In Japan you get a chick dressed up in school girl uniform. I am moving. (Now)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Those Butler Cafes, Simone, are they anything like the Japanese version of the male Chippendale dancers? Just wonderin'.

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      These cafes are interesting, side of Japan that I did not know about. I like the subject of these hubs you are writing. Most of what I have learned about Japan involved architectural design, architectural history and earthquake design. (If you are curious, no one is better at earthquake design than the engineering firms in Japan.) I am curious. Do these cafes apply the same level of detail to the food as they do to the atmosphere? It would not surprise me if the effort extended to the food.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia

      Another huge big reason for me to visit Japan. Who know I may make it this next year for a week. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • merchantdoctor profile image

      merchantdoctor 5 years ago from Reno

      Sounds like an amazing trip to take. We'll put it on the list thanks for the info!

    • ezhang profile image

      Edward Zhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA

      NEED MOAR MAIDS!!! Still jealous of your trip. Keep posting more hubs so I can experience Japan vicariously through you :D

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Good question, drbj! One could say so.... but swap out the Chippendale dudes for tall, thin, wonderfully manicured men wearing full butler garb!

      Wow, leroy64! I've never thought of Japan from an architectural perspective. I bet they ARE amazing with earthquake design! The effort absolutely extends to the food, but the dishes themselves are simple comfort food rather than fancy cuisine :D

      Yep, Peter Dickinson- you really do need to visit Japan!

      Thanks for stopping by, merchantdoctor!

      And for reals, ezhang...... YOU MUST GO TO JAPAN!!!!

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      Simone,

      You have never thought of Japan from an architectural perspective? I think I need to write some hubs around that subject. Thanks for the inspiration! I will have a blast with this hub.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm looking forward to reading those Hubs, leroy64!

    • travelgurrl profile image

      travelgurrl 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      What a blast! I have never been to Japan but it is on my list! I'm new to Hubpages and this is exactly the type of content I was hoping to find! I can't wait to see what other countries, topics and worlds I can explore through the words of my fellow hubbers! Thanks Simone!

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      So glad to hear Japan is on your travel hitlist, travelgurrl! Also, welcome to HubPages! It's awesome to have you here with us!

    • profile image

      nikki 5 years ago

      how much do you get when you work there? i'm doing an exploring careers thing for school and it would be really helpful if you could tell me. thanks.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I am not sure, nikki. I bet it varies from place to place. But I would have LOVED doing this while in school! Heck, I'd love doing it now...

    • profile image

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