|Credit: Yasuhiro Kawaguchi|
Hello everyone! And welcome to our café tour blog! For the month of May we will be visiting some of the various cafés during our stay in Japan. The reason why we chose to write about Japan’s cafés is because when you think of Japan somewhere along the lines cafés (more specifically, maid cafés) comes to mind and when we looked deeper into it we found out that Japan’s café culture is really diverse. With Japan being 3rd in terms of total coffee bean consumption among importing countries it speaks volumes of how surprising this coffee craze has quickly developed over the years and integrated other aspects of Japanese culture into their cafés. Our secondary objective is to have an in-depth look at Japan’s social culture. Mainly we will look how Japanese youth like to spend their time, and the norms that occur within cafés. Whether you want to play with animals (such as cats, rabbits or even goats!), read manga while you have a cup of coffee, or even relax and take a nap because you had a long and stressful day, there is a café for you.
First off we like to quickly introduce the members of the blog,
Hi everyone! My name is Alvin, a third year student at the University of Calgary, majoring in East Asian Language Studies. I believe this is my eighth time visiting Japan. I have been to Hokkaido, Osaka, Tokyo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa for sightseeing before but this will be my first time to be placed in an academic situation in Japan. So, I think I can say that I am new to Japan!
I love cycling. I enjoy the speed and the wind on my body. One of my dreams is to travel Japan and other countries on my bike.”
“Hello everyone! My name is Betty and I am majoring in Commerce. I like singing, taking photos and travelling. I have been to Japan twice already but I would like to discover more about Japan!”
“Hello everyone! My name is Marc. A third-year computer science student at the university of calgary. This will be my first time going to Japan and I am very excited to share this experience with everyone! I am mainly excited to visit Akihabara and visit the many games/anime stores there! Ideally I would like to visit as many places as I can in Japan.”
"Hi everyone! はじめまして！I am Chantelle, a second year East Asian Studies major at the U of C. I have been to Okinawa and Osaka so this would be my third time visiting Japan. I became fascinated with Japanese culture in junior high because of anime and cute idol groups. During my free time, I like watching anime, Japanese variety shows, and dramas. I did some cosplay in the past but I feel like I am getting tired to do all the preparations….
The images of cafés in Western culture is very different than cafés in Japanese culture. In Japan, all cafés have a theme, depending on what kind of customers they are targeting, whether it is for normal, otaku, or a particular audience who are looking for unique and innovative ideas. Normal cafés are basically western style cafés. Coffee and western snacks are served. Japanese visit these cafés to display their social status and enjoy a break time in western wonderland. In Otaku cafés, such as maid café, waiters or waitresses are dressed in butler or maid attire respectively to serve their “master” in other words, the customers. Otaku cafés are also intended to provide a wonderland for customers to get away from the reality, live out their fantasies, and enjoy a moment of relaxation. Another example of these otaku cafés are the anime themed café, by having characters from anime, fans can enjoy their meal with familiar faces with food and drinks based off the character themselves or . Finally, the creative cafés, generally, it is referring to animal cafés which customers can interact with them while visiting, such as rabbits, cats, dogs, owls, etc. However, it is simply a small chunk of it. Special cafés such as Japanese doll cafés and cafés that customers can play with computer parts also exist in Japan. Visit one of them if you are interested!
Our plan is to visit one café per week for four weeks. We plan on visiting a standard, anime, animal, and maid café. We have several criteria for choosing the café. First, we will visit cafés near train stations. This will help us save time and gives us ease of transportation around the city. Second, we will try to find one that is relatively cheap as cost is a major part where people decide to go. Lastly, while it is not necessary finding an english friendly environment would greatly appreciated. In this blog we will write about our initial thoughts, interesting facts about the theme of the week, partake in their menu and other highlights during the trip. As well, we will be studying how customers and staff interact with one another, and interviewing university students to get a sense of their social life and how cafés play a role in that.
I hope you will follow us on our café adventure! As well check out some photos of a themed café courtesy of our friend in Japan, Yasuhiro Kawaguchi, by clicking here!