We looked for a Maid Café in the Akihabara district when, in the shadowy back of a block of buildings, we noticed the silhouette of a couple standing next to one of the countless city drink machines.
Unhurried, still half lost in the eccentric Tokyo nightlife, we approached them with the valid pretext of using the device.
It's freezing cold. We know that the machines dispense us, at a glance, against a hundred yen, a warm and invigorating milk tea.
We apologize for disturbing your interaction and we will approach you. dressed in maid, Macaro arrests us with a smile as wide as his inebriated Lolita eyes.
tucked into a bonnet of picachu who covers his orange hair, his lips pierced with piercings, the friend struggles to laugh. The duo was also warming up, everything indicated a short break or escape from the business of the establishment we were looking for, or something else like that.
Three or four questions later, we confirm that they don't speak a word of English. Trying Japanese or any other language was out of the question. Instead, we toasted them almost silently, photographed them, interpreted their gestures that the café where they worked was next door and we said goodbye.
We turn the corner. We identified a sign with graphics that left no room for doubt. We climbed the narrow staircase.
At the top, another “maid” dressed in as much color as Macaro, almost unwinds in welcome: “Okaerinasaimase, goshujinsama!” she screams with one of the sharpest and most childish voices we've ever heard, and then settles in a dolled-up nook decorated in style “candy Candy” of the establishment.
We ordered tea. As we sip it, we enjoy the intriguing servility and cartoon grace with which the waitresses tend to and pamper customers.
The Profitable Tara of Maid Cafes and Cuddle Cafes
Originally, Maid Cafes emerged as the commercial satisfaction of Japanese male kink otaku, which is like saying fans of anime, manga and the like with particular fetishes for maid moe, young girls, innocent but attractive, even more in their shrunken French clothes, full of lace and ruffles typical of Gallic maids of other times.
Our maid cafe More attentive, the maids even feed the customers' mouths, clean their ears and give them massages on their clothes. They are also entertained with children's games, board games, sardines etc..
Aware of the craze of many customers, the establishments are governed by a series of strict ethical principles: it is not allowed to photograph or touch the maid in an abusive way. It is not tolerated for customers to ask them for contacts or pursue them, among other restrictions.
Other Less Cozy Establishments
For some time now, the maid cafes as if they opened doors to a panoply of competing cafes and restaurants outside the box.
An entirely different variant are the prolific restaurants, cafes and “robot” nightclubs in which these automated metal protagonists serve meals or dance, exhibit choreographies and liven up the noisy nightlife.
Some in apocalyptic clubs inspired by the "Star Wars"; others, where the service robots are female, somewhere between real women and maid moes.
At the same time, almost unimaginable variants of these eccentric variants have emerged: Ninja restaurants, an Alice in Wonderland café, dungeon bars and the Yurei Izakaia, a bar-restaurant with a chilling ghost-train atmosphere.
One more return to the megalopolis night scene and we return to the realm of affective need and the unavoidable female supplementation. There we find the Cuddle Coffees, in which, instead of what happened in the maid cafes, clients pay to sleep with the girls, but not in the way society has rushed to agree with the term.
They do pay to nestle in a shell with young “resident” maidens, to receive from them the affection they need in their lives, slaves to the PCs and alienated from everything and everyone.
Os Cuddle Cafes they are, in effect, a kind of tender and aseptic version of what goes on in the Red Light Districts of Kabukicho and Shinjuku.
there women kaba kuras kurabu (contraction of the Cabaret Club, with little to do with the surviving Kyoto geishas) and men hosuto kurabu (contraction of hosts de clubs) entertain customers against payment, in most places, with sex involved.
hosutos, the countless hosts of Tokyo
The images of hospitable are disseminated throughout the city, not just in the vicinity of the clubs where they work. The upwards of two hundred establishments that exploit its charm and seductive gifts generate rivers of money.
And they spend them publicizing their androgynous lures in expensive backlit advertising spaces that they reserve in key locations, with wealthy inhabitants and passersby.
Roland is considered the hostatu Top of the city. He works for Club Platina in Kabukicho where, in 2017, during his birthday, female clients spend ten million yen (77.500€) in just three hours with him.
In a normal month, this homely earns €370.000. To consolidate its status, it has already spent €80.000 on plastic adjustments to its face. And spend 1600€ a month to keep it immaculate.
But Maid MoesThe kubakuras, the hosuto kurabu and Roland are just some of the many nocturnal pastimes in the Japanese capital.
With its nearly 15 million inhabitants, Tokyo it has a bit of everything, from demure landings to the smokiest and noisiest haunts in Asia.
For a long time now, Internet, 24/7 video games and Internet houses have been included in first class. Pachinko. The amount of info and video addicts has become such that these establishments proliferate, welcoming them into the night, in the comfort of good armchairs, in front of screens and state-of-the-art headphones, when necessary, during sleep.
Confronted with the frightening prices of overnight stays in the city, at some point, visiting outsiders also began to sleep in these padded and artillery Internet Cafés.
Until shrewd local businessmen spotted the opportunity and launched claustrophobic capsule hotels.
The Nippon Night of All Lives
But not always the residents of Tokyo can predict where they land for night. In the image of those who want to spend more than a few days in the city, we soon realize the reality of the devastating departures of others of their famous slaves, the laborers.
The socially forced self-denial of the Japanese towards work is famous. And just a little less notorious – we are not sure how much still prevails – the reality of subordinates who, by extension of this pressure, are forced to go out on Friday evenings with the superiors of their companies and accompany them in misadventures nights soaked in sake, whiskey or the like.
The truth is that, whether they have had a bottle with their bosses, in the company of colleagues or alone, when the weekend comes, we always find countless of these sararymen tucked into their black executive suits, walking to these or already sleeping where fate made them land.
Elsewhere, whether the sky is starry, rain or snow falls, socializing takes place outdoors, in much more natural and healthy groups.
During several of the long walks we take around Tokyo we noticed the opportunism of the bar-restaurants that fit into the sides of the passages under the railway viaducts.
At times, even the deactivation of the gigantic Tsukiji Market, until then there were bars serving sushi, sashimi and the like.
We crossed them over and over again, fascinated by the smoky and festive atmospheres of Japanese folk saints conferred by the colorful signs and red paper balloons.
In these rounded and convenient arches, they are grilled non stop charcoal snacks served at moderate prices, accompanied by lots of conversation, beer and, of course, more sake.
Not even the recurrent and hellish slides of the trains over the feasts discourage the guests.
Shibuya, Roppongi, Ginza: each neighborhood, its Tokyo Nightlife
Trains also pass in the vicinity of Roppongi and Shibuya. There, the environment is, however, different. During the years after World War II, Roppongi became a favorite haunt of the Allied military.
Since then, for additional reasons known only to reason, the neighborhood has remained one of the favorites of the gaijin, that's what the Japanese call expatriates and visitors.
The neighborhood has long been home to most of the city's nightclubs and has a reputation for one of its liveliest nightlife. Mainly for the rap and hip-hop fashion that was imported from USA in the late 80s, apparently to stay. Especially in Roppongi, also in Shibuya and Shinjuku, the Afro protagonists of nightlife proliferate.
There are as many DJs, rappers, performers and dancers paid in gold to show off their skills as others who noticed the mine that was there and installed weapons and luggage. They now have their own Clubs.
They control small armies of equally Afro and immigrant collaborators, touts (raisers) who roam the surrounding districts distributing leaflets that advertise Nights e ladiesnights on top of these events, patrol the surrounding areas to attract aimless passersby.
In our wanderings through the frantic alleys of Shibuya, we pass them and we refuse – or else we receive – the leaflets that they foist.
It's impossible to miss them. In addition to the skewed skin tone, they are almost twice the height and volume of the Japanese. They wear bright clothes, bling bling to match and boast an almost superb ease of idols of the Japanese teenager masses.
Ginza, a neighborhood apart
The Ginza district forms a world with little to do with it. During the day, it hosts the most prestigious and expensive stores in Tokyo and one of the largest concentrations of luxury brands on the face of the Earth. Shortly after the sun sets, it becomes the city's premium entertainment district.
Unlike others, however, it does not attract a restless street crowd. Its establishments appear out of sight, on the upper floors of the huge shops and malls.
There are hidden the best Japanese Sushi restaurants. And others with different cuisines but the same type of exquisite and multimillion-dollar service. There are also the best chic bars and opulent and sophisticated nightclubs.
No matter how many turns the world has taken in the last decade, the Japan it remains one of its four most powerful economies.
With 15 million residents and around 130 million Japanese eager to have fun spending, Tokyo he barely has time to breathe. How much more to sleep.