Since the launch of Zero Yen, Yuuki has been like our little godmother. She was the first to trust us and to accept our request for an interview.
It was after our second meeting in Paris at her “Rock Winter Fest” show and after a long talk that the beautiful Yuuki was nice enough to offer us some exclusive reports for Zero Yen. We are happy to present to you her first article and we hope she will do many more after this one. We’re eager to hear her new single and we’d like to thank her very very much.
Erika Akiyama interview by Yuuki Nanami
Yuuki: Hello, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Erika (Himeka) : Yes, of course. My name is Erika Akiyama, I work at JAM, a maid coffee shop in the district of Akihabara. Over there, everyone calls me Himeka. I am also a member of the band « the himekishi offline » (姫騎士オフライン) , of a theater company (GAIA_crew) and I am model from time to time for the HANGRY ANGRY brand.
Y: When did you start working at the maid coffee shop?
H : 6 years ago. I am a veteran now! (laughs) I worked different jobs before landing at JAM .
Y: What gave you the desire to embrace this career?
H: The old agency I worked for intended to open a maid coffee. At the time, I lived in Osaka. My former boss asked me to go for it. Then I left for Tokyo.
Y: When you started working in this field, what stroke you the most?
H: The customers attending this kind of establishment are very nice in general and it is very easy to speak to them. Those coming only to marvel at our costumes are only a minority.
H: Yes, we have many regular customers. It is a very friendly place to come to.
Y: What are the positive aspects of this job?
H: If I was to compare with a restaurant or a normal coffee shop, we connect much more with our customers. I can speak and listen to many different stories. I like that.
Y: What about the negative aspects?
H: It is required to always smile even if we have a headache or are sick. I have to avoid showing my mood.
Y: What kind of customers do you like to speak the most to?
H: To everyone in general but it is true that I have a soft spot for people who take care of me and who ask me if I am fine, if I am not too tired, etc…
Y: A small question directly related to the district we are in: do you like manga and anime?
H: (laughs) I like those. I’m currently reading “Saint Young Men”, “Thermae Romae” and “A channel”. I also saw in theaters the movie « K -on » recently and I think I will see it a second time.
Y: So you like funny manga and anime the most?
H: I also like more serious stories but when I am busy, it’s better for me to read funny stuff so I can relax and forget about everything. It takes my mind off things.
Y: What are the differences between a maid coffee shop and a normal coffee shop?
H: Of course, we wear costumes called “maid fuku”. As I mentioned before, communication is very important here, we do more than taking orders and asking for the check.
Y: For those who don’t know the rules of this kind of place, it’s forbidden to take a picture of a maid, right?
H: Yes, of course.
Y: What else should we avoid doing?
H: That depends on where you go to but in general touching a waitress, asking for personal details is also prohibited. It’s ok to take pictures of your food at JAM. I think that it is even important so that the customer can remember the good times he had with us.
Y: Let’s talk about food then. At JAM, you offer « omurice ». What do you write on top of them with ketchup?
H: I’m often asked to draw things I like, such as Pokémon, Doraemon or Kyubey (character from the anime « Puella Magi Madoka Magica »). Unfortunately, I am not very good at it! (laughs) I’m trying to improve though. I can also write the first name of the customer or mine or sometimes small messages like “happy birthday”.
Y: How old are your customers usually?
H: All ages really: there are children, « salary men » (between 20 and 40 years old), girls who come alone and even maids from other coffee shops come to relax. We have several kinds of Belgian beers, which is rare around here. Many customers also come to drink this beverage without no specific interest for us.
Y: So it’s possible to come alone if you’re a girl?
H: Yes, I often do it myself! (laughs)
Y: Speaking of Belgian beers, are there any foreign customers coming to JAM?
H: From time to time. The coffee shop is located in a basement so it’s rather hard to find.
Y: How do you interact with them when they’re here?
H: Usually, greetings are done in Japanese then we try to describe the dishes in English. There is also body language (laughs). But in this store, we have a maid who can speak French and another one English so if you’re lucky… (laughs)
Y: Awesome! Aren’t there many girls who want to work in maid coffee shops?
H: A while ago, many girls were dreaming of getting this job but these past few years, the demand has slightly faded, due to a lack of popularity. However, lots of little girls still dream of becoming a maid.
Y: Will you answer my following question: what is the average age of a maid?
H: Everyone will tell you « they’re all 17 for eternity » (laughs). But the majority are students and they are approximately 20 years old.
Y: A last word for our readers?
H: We tried to introduce you to this world but beyond words, it is always better to see by yourself. So don’t hesitate to come and visit if you are vacationing in Japan!
tokyo chiyoda-ku sotokanda 3-2-13 yamaguchi building B1F
Original English translation: Jérôme Besnoist
English adaptation and revision: Ghis