Yaoi culture has a place for the ladies to relax and enjoy some eye candy.
The Western world is filled with themed restaurants, bars, cafes and the like, though most of them decidedly cater to the male crowd and usually their sales point involves an all-female staff dressed in minimal or provocative clothing. Japan is no different, with its fair share of schoolgirl themes, hostess clubs and others. But one fetish that is present in Japan is Yaoi. The Edelstein Café, located in Harajuku, is one such club.
Yaoi, loosely translated, means “boy love,” and it’s a type of anime sensation that appeals to women and gay men in that it features primarily androgynous young men in romantic situations (there’s a more thorough definition of it in). Naturally, it made sense to bring this to life in order to make a few bucks off of it and provide Yaoi fangirls with a place to relax and experience their fetish.
The café opened up in 2007 and has been extremely successful ever since. The setting of the Edelstein Café is a private German boys’ school and it features a staff posing as both teachers and students. Those who work there are mostly young aspiring models and actors and there are plenty of pretty boys to go around, since the main requirement of employment is a tendency toward androgyny, as fits the Yaoi theme. Staff are dressed in fine, themed clothes with perfect manicures and often wearing lipstick to further the androgynous effect. Sometimes, to celebrate a popular manga, the staff will take on the dress of those from that manga in order to draw in fans.
Visiting the Edelstein Café is themed in more ways than just the appearance of the place. Customers come in as the school’s “patrons,” are greeted at the door by the staff and explained the rules of the “school” and are even required to wear school passes around their neck for the duration of their stay. The whole thing makes for a very immersive meal.
This is just one of many themed cafes in Japan, a growing number of them aimed at attracting female customers. It’s an interesting place for ladies (or curious men) to stop through if they happen to be in the area. Edelstein is a smaller place, however, featuring only 20 seats, so reservations well ahead of time are a must.