LOOKING EAST / Maid cafes go beyond otaku culture

The Daily Yomiuri: "Interest around the world in the Japanese maid cafe, a symbol of otaku or "geek" culture, may be much greater than Japanese people think. At least I've come to think so during the past several months.

I went to Changchun in northern China in early June to attend the Changchun International Comic and Animation Fair. While strolling aruond the venue, I came across Chinese women clad in maid costumes handing out flyers advertising a maid cafe that will open in Changchun in August. The wording of the flier, written in both Chinese and Japanese, was amazing.

It said, "My love for my master will never ever change, even if I go to hell!"

I believe the Japanese words were a direct translation of the Chinese. Still, I never thought I would be given such a flyer from a "maid" in northern China.

It was not that Japanese people were around at the venue. In fact, there hardly any Japanese there at all.

At the first Kintoki-Con in Sacremento, held in June as well, I also found a maid cafe. The event, held at the Hyatt Regency hotel, introduced Japanese pop culture, and the cafe on the hotel's first floor had been temporarily transformed into a maid and butler cafe.

At the entrance, a maid welcomed customers with "okaeri nasaimase, goshujin-sama" (welcome home, my dear master), in Japanese.

This is a universal practice. Whether a cafe is in Taipei, Shanghai or Beijing, and whoever the customer, maids deliver the greeting in Japanese. So it happens that a Chinese maid greets Chinese customer in Japanese."

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