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Japan: Tokyo (Swallowtail Butler Cafe)

Japan is well known for its host of maid and animal cafés and now there is yet another “theme” café to be added to that list. Tucked away beneath K-Books bookstore in Ikebukuro, you will find the latest craze in café dining, The Swallowtail Butler Café (http://www.butlers-cafe.jp/). The café offers lunch, dinner, tea and dessert sets and caters predominantly to female clientele in their 20s and 30s, and it is easy to understand why.

Butler cafe

Butler cafe

Entrance 1

Entrance

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The café décor is reminiscent of an English manor house. Customers are led into the dining room through a lavishly decorated corridor filled with paintings, vases and flowers. Each side of the dining room is lined with private booths decorated with overstuffed pillows and beautiful fabric curtains. Tables with claw-footed chairs are placed in the center of the room beneath two massive crystal chandeliers and there is a mirrored cabinet on one end filled with exquisite tea sets.

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Elegant decor

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China cabinet

Although menus are available in English, the butlers mostly communicate in Japanese. There are 20 butlers who were trained for a month on manners, speech and the art of tea making and they are extremely attentive. They subserviently greet customers with a “Welcome home Madame, “ push your chair in, carry your purse to your table, bow whenever they leave your table, refill your tea cup and go the extra mile to make you feel special. Although men tend to visit maid cafés in groups of 2-3, approximately 1/3 of the female patrons at this butler café were there alone and seated at what would be classified as a “single” table. A majority of the customers were female naturally but there were some men in the mix as well.

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The food is a bit on the pricey side, as can be expected and most people typically wind up spending on the average between 2,000¥ to 5,000¥. A bell is placed on your table and you ring it if you want your butler’s attention and even to get permission to visit the restroom.

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Reservations are required and should be made between one to fourteen days prior to your planned visit. There is an 80- minute time limit for patrons to remain in the café and perhaps that is a good thing as women would savor this kind of service all day long if allowed to do so. For those of you wanting to take a bit of the experience home with you, there is a gift shop across the street which offers cards and photos with the butlers’ images, CDs and other goods. You can also purchase wine, sweets and tea at the gift shop.

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Items available at the gift shop

Items available at the gift shop

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