On weekends, the 22-year-old language student from Barcelona becomes “Mitsuki,” eternally 17 at Akihabara’s Popopure maid café
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Why did you come to Japan?
I came to Japan six months ago to study the language and grow up as a person. I had to live alone and do things for myself. I come from a family of five, and then I was alone in a different culture not even understanding the language.
How did you end up in a maid café?
Since I was a kid, I liked old clothes, like from the 18th century. When I was 9 years old, I watched the anime Candy Candy, which inspired my love for Lolita fashion. My friends told me that I had two options as a Lolita in Japan: work for the international fan club of one of my favorite J-rock bands, which is impossible, or work in a maid café. Maid cafés are getting more foreign customers and need staff that speak both Japanese and English.
Was it tough to become a maid?
At first I couldn’t communicate with the customers and [other] maids, but they were all very nice and taught me. For me, it was embarrassing to act like a maid. I couldn’t sing, dub animation [a game in the café], or draw on the omelet rice the way maids do. In Barcelona, acting like a maid wouldn’t be allowed! You would be laughed at for even wearing these clothes at all.
What do customers want from maids?
I think they want to enjoy an experience and have fun, whether they are a man or a woman. Even if the customers come in couples or groups, they don’t talk and just watch us maids as we work. It’s like they are expecting us to do something to make them happy. The guys are really shy, like giggling when they talk to maids. It’s the opposite of the confident big-man image in Spain. Sometimes they ask for pictures with the maids [which cost money], or they come back again and again like they are in love. But I don’t want to know!
Women come in, too?
Yes, about 30 percent of all customers. I thought they would all be men, but even families with children will visit. That surprised me.
What is the best part about being a maid?
The other maids. They are younger than me and very cute.
What is something everyone should do once in Japan?
Go to Ueno Park or Tokyo Tower. A maid café is not on the top of the list. It is fun, so come if you have time, but Tokyo has so many other exciting things to do. You can be here a week and still have so many amazing things left to see before a maid café.
See www.popopure.com/maid for more info. Patrick Galbraith
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