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Did you know that there are countless cafes in Tokyo’s Akihabara district where school girls are paid to serve and perform in flirtatious french maid costumes? I didn’t. Feeling inquisitive, astonished and awkward as hell, heres what happened when I visited one of Tokyo’s most popular Maid Cafes @Home Cafe and the disturbing reality why you should avoid them.
What Is A Maid Cafe?
Young Girl dressed in French Maid costume.
Naively, at first, I thought that the experience might be similar to that of the subculture practices of the “Sweet Lolita” girls from Harajuku. I pondered whether maybe a Maid Cafe was a place where teenage girls hung out dressed up as french maids for fun (who knows? It’s Japan after all), but alas it turns out that I was wrong. Maid cafes are in fact restaurants that employ teenage girls to dress up as French maids, thus to provide entertainment and service to their customers.
Kyoto is the center of Kimono culture in Japan. Everywhere you look, both Japanese and international tourists can be seen parading proudly around the former ancient capitol in a variety of colourful Kimonos on a daily basis. But what is a Kimono, why is the traditional dress so popular in Kyoto, and where can you get one from?
WHAT IS A KIMONO?
A Kimono is a loose, ankle length, T shaped robe made from one bolt of fabric, cut into 6 rectangular panels. Traditionally worn for formal occasions in Japan, the word Kimono directly translates into “Thing to Wear” in Japanese language.
Kimono is normally worn together with juban (Kimono underwear), a koshi himo belt, datejime sash and a broad decorative belt called a Obi, as this prevents to kimono from opening up and trailing on the floor.
Wearing a Kimono properly can be a complicated task and often requires assistance, especially for a beginners or if you are wearing a ceremonial kimono for a special event. The final look is then completed with white tabi socks and geta shoes. Watch the video below to see what this process looks like in super speed. Continue Reading
Kyoto is famed for its traditional temples, sacred shrines, elegant gardens, and gorgeous geisha. The city itself is a delectable fusion of contemporary and ancient Japanese culture doused with a healthy measure of sensational shopping. As you walk through Gion’s cobbled streets, your sights and senses are overwhelmed with a plethora of pretty keepsakes, exceptional crafts and future heirlooms, designed to remind you of your journey to Japan’s most desirable destination. Here’s Haute Culture’s Girly Guide to Shopping in Kyoto so you can hit the ground running and not miss a beat!
1. Kyoto’s Kimonos
The Kimono is Japan’s national traditional dress, designed to impress. Available in an all inclusive, customisable, one size fits all, and comes in an eternity of colours, patterns and prints to suit any mood and season. Kyoto is the capital of the kimono, and if you love fashion as much is I do, then you will not be able to contain yourself with excitement over how beautiful everyone looks walking around wearing this ensemble. Secondhand kimono or new Yukata can be bought for as little as $50.
Wargo Kimono rental in Gion, Kyoto
Two pretty Japanese lady’s in full traditional dress
A fun, fashionable and fastastical list awesome KAWAII things to do in and around Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan.
Harajuku is a MUST see destination in Tokyo for any fashion fanatic interested in alternative and downright crazy subculture trends, shopping and street style. I spent one week hanging out Harajuku and surrounding Shibuya and Jingumea with Tokyo Way tours in order to uncovered the best shops and most secretive spots that will give Haute Culture readers the most authentic experience when visiting Japan’s fashion capitol.
1. Take a walk down Takeshita street
The beating pulsing flamboyant kawaii heart of Harajuku. Takeshita street has escalated from a small time subculture hangout to a glittering mega brand shopping sensation. Each weekend the 500 meter pedestrian ally is pounded by tens of thousands pink clad teenagers looking to stock up on more cheap and cheer full pink accessories, pink candy floss and pink flavored crepes. I reckon it’s the most pink place in Tokyo. This is the by far the best shopping spot for fun fashion, toys, glitter, costumes, hair accessories, candy, fake eyelashes and sunglasses.
Opposite end of Takeshita street before reaching Jingumae district
Candy covered octopus on the roof of a shop in Takeshita street
Spinns popular fashion shop for vintage and fun fashion
My faves from Harajuku, crazy fashion, crepes, ACDC ensemble and comic covered stairs
I wanted to buy this unicorn soooo bad
Harajuku street style, even the tourists want to look their best
Metallic foil skirts for sale in Spinns, I bought a gold one to wear to the Robot Resturant
Japanese satin bomber jackets were all the rage in Tokyo
ACDC is a youth fashion institution and must visit shop
Silly souvenirs for sale on the main strip
Santa Monica Crepes
Harajuku district in Tokyo is renown as the cute, crazy and cool capital of fashion subcultures around the world. Every week 1000s of fashion fanatics, shopaholics and costume connoisseurs from all over Japan and beyond flock to Haraduku’s lanes, boutiques and malls. There they stock up on the latest trends, spy on emerging street styles and strut their stuff around local landmarks with high hopes of having their portrait papped for the fashion press.
The Lolita look is one of the original and still most popular styles amongst teenage girls in Japan today, as it symbolises everything sweet and “Kawaii” (cute) that Japanese culture obsesses over. On my 2nd morning in Tokyo I headed straight to Maison De Julietta who are acknowledged as the leading Lolita salon. Based in the heart of Harajuku’s most famous shopping center Laforte, they offer a wide range of Lolita’s most popular fashion brands and styles, cosmetic makeovers (including wigs and eyelashes), in-house fairy tale themed photo shoots and most importantly, an insight into the sugar coated style secrets of Japanese youth culture. How could I resist?
Watch the magical makeover in under 2 minutes