But what is a Maid Cafe you ask - well I visited one, and I must admit I'm still not entirely sure. What I can tell you was that it was a whole lot of fun.
I've been told that the cafe's have been popping up around Tokyo since the early 2000's, as an 'obvious' extension of the anime and manga craze of the nation. These cafes - staffed entirely by youngish women decked out in frilly skirts, cat ears, lace and glitter - seem catered towards a male audience (at least, from what I saw during my visit) but don't let that make you think that there is anything seedy about them as we first thought when we stumbled into Maidreamin on our first night in Shinjuku (at least, the seediness is hidden behind kawaii cuteness).
The rules are pretty strict - no photos of the girls, no touching the girls and no asking for their phone numbers (assumedly the guys are into this....). What you do get however is an entertaining hour (yes, you pay by the hour. yes, I still stand by the point that this is not what you think it is.) where your food is decorated with cat pictures and your drinks are accompanied by a song and dance (beware, you won't be allowed to drink until you join in.).
These places are still largely geared towards locals, and as such we found ourselves fumbling with language barriers, but that was half the fun. If you want a true crazy Japanese experience look no further.