Hello again. It’s review time again, and now we go to distant Okinawa to bring you the latest information on the best maid cafes all over Japan. Today’s review is for LOVE♥PLUS (love heart plus), located in Naha, Okinawa.
I went to Naha on vacation, and a little bit out of topic, I really recommend the place. It is Japan, only with people 1000 times warmer. It’s not that Tokyo dwellers are cold, they’re just… shy. Not at all in Okinawa, everybody is warm, smiling and willing to look at life from a good side.
Now, Naha is the capital of Okinawa, if you go Okinawa, you will most likely land in there. There is a quite recently finished monorail (the Yui-rail), which takes you from the airport to downtown Naha. Most likely, you will want to get off at Kencho-mae station, which lies near the far west of Kokusai-dori, Naha’s most lively street, where most commercial establishments, including this wonderful maid cafe lies.
Even though I wasn’t originally planning on entering LOVE♥PLUS, I have to admit that as soon as I landed in Okinawa, I looked online on my cell phone for maid cafes in Okinawa. I wasn’t really serious about it, as maid cafes outside of Tokyo and Osaka are not so common (so far, I haven’t even been able to find one in Kyoto). And information was scarce. I found some reviews dated 2 or 3 years ago, so most likely such a place would no longer exist in oh-so-far-away Okinawa.
Not only was I so wrong, but I learned that Naha, while far from being the next Akihabara, is quite otaku-friendly. Apart from this maid cafe, it has several game centers with the latest games (I couldn’t find GFDM XG though, but that one’s not -that- common even in Tokyo) and it has a quite well stocked and pretty lively Animate store, which I found has the best cosplay section I’ve seen on an Animate so far.
On my second day in Okinawa, after enjoying some really nice scuba diving, I went for a walk on Kokusai-dori and while I was spacing out I saw a girl doing Haruhi cosplay. I kept on walking until I went like “huh? what was that?”. I went back, and my suspicions were right. There is a Maid cafe right in the middle of Naha. To get there, you walk up the street from the west end of Kokusai-dori, some 2 or 3 blocks, on the left side right on the street, you should find this place. Very easy to spot.
Technically, LOVE♥PLUS is not a maid cafe, but a maid/butler cafe. I suppose this is to appeal to members of both sexes. and it opened quite recently, as you can see on the picture at the top of this article. After I confirmed that this was indeed a maid cafe, I went in. This was the usual drill: you get in an elevator and you go up to the third floor where a very cute maid greets you.
Now, LOVE♥PLUS is a maid cafe a little bit on the expensive side. It charges 500 yen as a non-consumable table charge, which would be much more than enough to scare me away if this were Akihabara. But you don’t get the chance to go to a maid cafe in Okinawa every day, do you? As you enter the place, the maid who greeted you explains you about the system and the rules of the house, which are very standard: no pictures, no touching (this was actually written!), etc. After you enter the place and take your seat, they bring you a basket in which you can put your bag, which is then covered by a cloth and placed right beside you. Classy.
I was quite fortunate that they were doing a double Evangelion/Haruhi event, which translates to two additional menus, one for each of the celebrated series. The normal menu was quite standard: Omurice, pasta, soft drinks and desserts. If my memory serves me right, there were no alcoholic beverages available. Prices were a little bit high, but still within normal ranges: Pasta for 780 yen, soft drinks for 380 yen. However, the special menus were quite odd in that they offered things with some quite bombastic names (Nagato Yuki’s Data Integration Thought Entity Special Drink), yet didn’t bother to explain what those drinks were supposed to be.
Well, I ordered my drink, actually a Nagato Yuki’s Data Integration Thought Entity Special Drink, and the maid asked me if I was okay with drinking carbonated drinks. I was like “…yes?”. I also ordered some pizza mentioned in the Evangelion menu. While I waited, I took a little more detailed look at the cafe. LOVE♥PLUS is a single and quite spacious room with tables on two sides: the right side is the couch side, with of course, couches for drinks; and the left side is the window side, with more regular tables, but with a nice third floor view of Kokusai-dori.
At the far end of the cafe, they have a humongous screen showing some anime. When I went there they were showing some Naruto, but when the episode finished, they changed to one of the Endless Eight episodes, and then the next one. They also have lots of anime themed decorations, such as K-On! figures and posters. The place is quite neat, yet decorated on the relaxed side, unlike more formally themed cafes. I think the entire place can seat some 20-25 people, which is kinda low for a room that big. This means that you have your own space and can relax as much as you want.
Also, while I waited, the girls came and talked with me. So far, the maids have been the most friendly among all the maids I’ve met in Japan. They were quite curious about me, what I was doing here, and some more anime/manga related talk. In the end I ended up talking with two girls, and for some strange reason, both asked me which one was my favorite K-On! character… I wonder why.
Eventually, the food arrived. The Evangelion pizza was a little bit small, but very well decorated, and pretty good tasting. The Nagato drink was quite large, and it had some cranberry ultra-sweet taste to it. I liked it pretty much (as expected, it was carbonated ^^). Also, to make the drink taste much better, the maids asked me to do a moe-moe-kyun on the drink (which is quite common in maid cafes all over Japan, by the way, since K-On! made it so famous), and I do have to admit, it worked.
One of the girls was wearing glasses, and you know how much of a megane-kko maniac I am, but on closer inspection, those were actually glasses without lenses and a quite thick and phony looking frame, not unlike what you would find in a prank store. I wonder what that was about?
On their website they mention quite a long list of maids and “footmen” (the butlers). I have no idea where all of they were, as I only met three maids (the two I mentioned before, and the Haruhi cosplay girl at the entrance), and one butler, who gave me the basket to put my bag in it at the entrance, whom I think was either a girl, or a really effeminate man (sorry man, if you’re reading this). But I would really like to see some more of the staff.
As you could have possibly guessed, the ambience and feel of the place is more on the playful side, like popopure in Akiba, than on the formal side, like M’s Melody in Nagoya. Uniforms are not, for the lack of a better word, uniform, but they are pretty cute. All in all, LOVE♥PLUS can be thought of a regular cafe with maids in it, who talk to you about anime, and are really nice.
A very obvious miss on this cafe, is the offer of taking a picture with one of the maids. If you girls are reading this, you should really implement that. They also have a quite unusual point card system, in which you get a point each time you go into the cafe (regardless of how much you spend), and after 10 points, you get a “Rank up”. What you can do with the points is not specified, and may have been left as an exercise for the reader?
Their website is very basic, and last time I checked, the events link was broken. I would really like for them to fix that as soon as possible.
All in all, I liked LOVE♥PLUS. The fact that it is in Naha is very good, as it is a very good reason for me to go back to Okinawa; and the friendliness of the maids really made me fall in love with this place. I would really like for other maid cafes to learn from LOVE♥PLUS that it is possible to be friendly without having to look like a kyabakura, like some places I’ve been to. However, they should improve their website, their point system, offer pictures, remove the table charge system, and definitely get that girl a pair of real glasses.
If you have the chance to go to Naha, you should really go to LOVE♥PLUS.
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