Visiting a maid café is an experience among many unique to Japan; but this one is particularly shrouded in mystery and misconception. Some people believe that you enter a maid café and are immediately worshipped as a lord or king of a castle. Or, that the maid sits by your side playing with your hair whispering sweet nothings into your ear (that would be a hostess bar). However, the truth is it's not too different from any other café or teahouse you may visit in the West. Here, although the staff wear maid uniforms, they are basically normal waitresses even though they may (or may not) address you as master or mistress. Both men and women often frequent maid cafés in Japan, and it is not unusual to see a couple enjoying a coffee and cake together.
At the moment, the Akihabara maid café craze has only recently come to Fukuoka’s otaku scene, and there are only a few sprinkled throughout the city. The most popular maid café in the city can be found in Tenjin and is aptly named Tenjin Style. It has a homely atmosphere and a friendly staff. Once you enter you are greeted by the maid and given a menu. If it is your first time, she will politely explain their policy. Basically, photos of maids = bad, photos of food = okay. You can take a Polaroid photo of one maid for 500 yen, and of two maids together for 1,000 yen. There is a blanketed-off section in the back of the café where you can use their Hello Kitty Polaroid camera to capture the moment. If you want to take a picture with the maids, well, you need to be a VIP member. You’ll then also receive a membership card and be able to rack up stamps as a frequent customer.
The maid café experience includes interesting service and presentation. The menu consists of common items like spaghetti, omurice, and coffee. The prices, however, are a little more expensive than a regular café. A latte can cost you 600 yen, with the main courses ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 yen. When you are ready to order you ring the hand bell and your maid will be there to take your order. When your food arrives it will most likely be decorated with an extra splash of ‘kawaiiness’ – bears, cats, rabbits, hearts, or smiley faces. Your maid will check in with you occasionally to make sure everything is okay while offering a few compliments to her guest. When you are finished, your maid brings you the check and that's that – an experience not too different from other cafes, but one that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime for any otaku.
Tenjin Style is a five-minute walk to the north from Tenjin Station on the main thoroughfare, Watanabe-dori, located on the second floor just above Udon West. It's open daily from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm.