My experiences with Butler Cafe’s…
Butler Cafes are the female version of Maid Cafes in Japan, and from what I learn is that it is slightly more formal than the walk in Maid cafes, I noticed last year at Akihabara. There are some formal Maid Cafes as well, but from what I can see Butler Cafés reservations must be made before hand, and depending on how popular the Café is, then that would just depend on how long a customer must wait on getting reservations. Butler cafés is a pretty recent creation, alongside the popularity of Otome Road, and the rise of some anime, and Japanese hobby niches.
I expected business to be booming, and especially on White Day, which is the Japanese version of following up with Valentine’s Day. Times are taken quite seriously at Butler Cafes, since the customer pays for the amount of time there is for butlers to wait on them. Depending on how informal or formal a butler café can get, then that is the amount of princess aspect, a customer will feel like.
Now the back story of my experiences with not just one, but two butler cafes would be a last minute and a planned prior meeting. Aya had planned with Rai to take me to Royal Servant, on White Day even before I came to Tokyo. I have been hearing plenty of good things from Rai about Royal Servant which is a cosplay themed butler café. I was excited to get this on my agenda, so imagine my surprise when my other friend who I refer to as Emi invites me to go with her, and another friend to Cafe Edelstein on White Day as well.
Café Edelstein is a slightly informal schoolboy themed butler café. Rai and Aya had gone to both cafes, and they reminded me that I recommended them Edelstien was already recommended from Deb Aoki’s tweets. So at the last minute I went and met up with my friend and her friend at Harujuku in the morning of White Day. We got slightly lost finding the Café in the backward way of Harujuku streets, and when we finally made it, the experience began.
Café Edelstein is on the second floor, and when we walked in, we were greeted with a server, who had us write our names on cards. Shown to our table, we pursued the menu. There are set meals, along with teas, sweets, and special services such as getting to take your picture with the butler etc. My Japanese is not strong enough beyond pointing and looking, so while my friend’s friend and I was talking in English. The butlers pegged us as foreigners, and started to speak really slowly in Japanese. Emi who got the reservations at this café is a student in Tokyo, so while she is an American, her Japanese is great.
In this informal café, I was allowed to tweet, take pics of food and watch as the butlers flitted around. I was surprised that there was a man sitting at one of the tables, and I was slightly charmed by how obviously familiar guests interact with butlers, or read quietly while passing their time. There was this one butler that looking at him, I thought of Teppei, and I was slightly sad that I couldn’t get a picture of him, but with the time and language barrier, oh well.
I realize that there was a serious time limit, so I quickly made my order, of Tomato and Basil soup, Darjeeling tea, and a Carmel Cheesecake, which had a picture card that was drawn specifically by a butler. If I can find it, I remember the picture was of a turtle! The meal was quite delicious and I had a good time. Now it is to Royal Servant, and running late.
The Royal Servant butler café was also on a higher floor, and there was a bell to ring before stepping into the café. Now I mentioned before that the butlers in this café is cosplay themed, and what is special about some of the butlers in this café, is that they are well known cosplayers in Japan, already published in the various cosplay magazines or photo books. Rai remarked to me that there was a butler present that day that normally is not there, and a catch with Royal Servant is that there are well known butlers, but the café will not disclose what days will the specific butlers be present, so that is a draw for customers to keep frequenting the café.
In Royal Servant, the formality was more pronounce. The butler definitely did a lot of things for you, from sitting, to serving. As a customer, you ring a bell on the table and they come. I order a Servant Set, which was two dishes, and Rai ordered a Princess set, with three dishes. Queen set was four dishes. From the start of the meal, Rai had mentioned that I was an American tourist, so I was speaking English with the butlers who would come over, and make conversation. The butlers had to go get on their knees to talk with the sitting customer, since as a princess, and the butlers didn’t want the customers to stretch their necks. I mostly sat and observed my surroundings, and I wasn’t able to converse with a lot of butlers, since their English may not have been great, but one butler who I learned had the best English came over to talk with me, and it was fun.
Royal Servant had a strict no photo policy, so I have nothing but my memories, a photo with three of the butlers, and homemade White Day gifts that Royal Servant provided.
Now to maybe go to a Maid café to see how this measures up.
The butler at the end of all this, ushered us out, and stood by the elevator while we exited the premises.
Rai and I stopped briefly at Animate, and then headed over to Shinjuku, where we met up with five other people after a period of waiting, until an accident off the Yamanote was cleared. I got to go back to that Taiyaki place at Shinjuku like I did last year. Memories…
Emi, and her friend Kat met up with Aya and I believe were at Harujuku seeing a parade celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Moy and Jan also met up.. and we decided to try and find the niku tabehoudai place I went with Coralie, and Rai last year. So after a lot of searching, we found it!!!! Niku.. I was pretty stuffed with the double Butler Cafe experience, but it was pretty interesting to see Rai out eat both Moy and Jan.. or did Jan keep up? >_< It was fun!
After all this was done and over, we took a brief look at Kabukicho. Rai told me where the fugu restaurant was, so that’s another blog experience. We took sticker pictures, and played some arcade games. Fun times.. ^_^
More images are available at my Flickr account.