Written by Andrea & Risa
1) We are so happy to hear that you are coming to visit us in Arizona! What are you most looking forward to during your stay?
Hitomi: I’m so excited to go to Arizona to meet our masters and princesses there. I would like them to introduce us to their famous food!
Mizukin: It’s my first time, too. I heard the highest temperature was over 120 degrees there once! We’ve never experienced that high heat in Japan. At @home cafe in Akihabara, we welcome many masters and princesses from all over the world, but I’ve never personally met anyone from Arizona. I’ll be really happy to meet them at Saboten Con.
Chimu: I love American comics, like Batman and The Avengers. I’m also looking forward to seeing the city and the Arizona landscape – I imagine it’s like something so big and wide open like I can only see in movies. Also, when I go to international events, I learn about Japanese anime that’s more popular overseas than what we like in Japan, so I’m curious to know what my masters and princesses are watching in America.
2) @home maids are experts at connecting with their patrons, and now that maid culture is more international, is there anything special you do to connect with your foreign visitors?
Hitomi：At @home cafe, we receive basic English lessons from the time we become candidates. We’re always working on improving our English, and we’d like to communicate more with our masters and princesses from overseas. Sometimes we try to communicate with lots of facial expressions and it becomes like a gesture game on both sides, but that’s a genuine moment we share, too, because we’re both desiring to get to know each other, and it always ends with laughs and smiles. The magic spell “moe moe kyun” is universal, too!
Mizukin：I’m practicing English, and I try to give a positive feeling by smiling a lot and showing that I’m really interested to know where they came from, and what brought them to @home cafe. Playing games is always a great ice breaker, too.
Chimu: I try to communicate in big, physical ways – in Japanese, we call it “o-ba-riakushon (over reaction)” … If a master says he’s from Australia, I try to gesture like a kangaroo! My English level is so basic, like “Kangaroo!” (jumping), “Very hot!” (touching my own arm), “Suntan! Australia!” Once, I tried to do gestures like a koala, and everyone went “…huh??” The other maids came to me, asking “Chimu, is that a sloth? You’re scaring people!” So I’m going to stick with the kangaroo… (laughs)
@home cafe – 15th Anniversary Music Video “Aikome♡Forever”
3) Hitomi, you’re such a legendary maid, and you have been @home café’s #1 maid for a long time! Do you do anything specific to stay as a top maid?
Hitomi: Always love your job! I think when you’re passionate about your work, you can keep going no matter what. The thing you love will encourage you to do your best to accomplish your goals. For example, becoming one of @home cafe’s Premium Maids is not only about working years and years, but it’s about becoming the maid you want to be, and becoming the maid that masters and princess want to visit and meet. There’s no short cut, but if you love your job, you’ll look forward to learning more and increasing your skill. You really have to enjoy serving your masters and princesses, and that creates a great feeling for everyone in the mansion.
4) This question is also for Hitomi. “Moe moe kyun!” is a magical spell that you created, and it has become synonymous with maid cafes and maid culture. Can you tell us how you came up with that spell, and how you feel about being the originator of a modern maid culture phenomenon?
Hitomi: When I first came to @home cafe, the concept of “moe” already existed in Akihabara. I already loved the “moe” word and always tried to find a way to describe what it is. Then I realized that when I feel “moe”, there is a feeling like something is squeezing my heart! Whenever I see something cute or I see my favorite things that I love, I get an uncontrollable feeling, and it’s like my heart is making the sound “kyun!” – and that’s how the maid’s magical spell “moe moe kyun!” was born. I believe this has real magic power and that’s why it’s become universal as a symbol of maid culture.
5) For Chimu and Mizukin, you’re Premium Maids! Can you explain what it means to be a “Premium Maid”?
Mizukin： Before I became a maid, I was a big fan of @home cafe, and Hitomi was my idol. I wanted to become like her so much and that’s the reason I came here. For me, becoming a Premium Maid means becoming the respectable “lady” I aspire to be. Even though I look up to Hitomi so much, I realized becoming a Premium Maid is about becoming the true “you”. I love makeup and dressing up nice, so I started to work hard on what I’m good at and what I love. Then many masters and princesses started to ask me to take cheki (Polaroid) photos or buy my photos at the mansion. I became number one with that, and that brought me to becoming a Premium Maid.
Chimu：For me, the Premium Maid is the image of @home cafe. You are representing @home café and all the maids there. Being a symbol like that, like Hitomi is to Mizukin, is very important. I want to be the maid that the candidates and trainees wish to become one day. And I also want to be a maid that makes masters and princesses feel proud that they are my fans. I’ve been drinking this special tea (“Tokucha”) for 6 years to keep myself in shape too! (laughs)
6) There are a variety of kawaii menu at @home cafe! If we go home to your cafe for the first time, what do you recommend? Do you have a personal favorite?
Hitomi: The Princess Sundae and Prince Sundae! I designed the entire menu, but these are my true favorites!
Mizukin: I love drawing, so I choose the latté that comes with drawing! We’ll draw whatever design you would like in front of you!
Chimu: The most famous dish is “Pipiyo-Piyopiyo Hiyoko-san Rice”, but for me it’s “Moe-Moe Pink Curry”. We chant the magic words together to turn the curry sauce pink!
7) The current design for @home maid uniforms is super cute! The designer, Keita Maruyama, did an amazing job! We have heard that the design of the maid uniforms changes slightly depending on maid rank. Could you elaborate on how they change based on your rank?
Hitomi: That’s a great question, and the answer is a little long, but it’s also the story of @home cafe’s way of maintaining the highest quality maid service in the whole world.
@home cafe maids have 4 ranks. Only 1 in 10 can only pass the interview and the practical exam, and after entering @home cafe, each will start serving as a newcomer maid. The first, simple outfit is worn by newcomers for 4 months.
Then there is the Maid Test Level 3 test, which is divided into practical skills and writing, along with an evaluation from the store manager. Maids can then be promoted to candidate maids and will be assigned to a certain mansion. For up to a year, they will wear a new design with more frills and more volume in the hem.
One year later, after monthly review, candidate maids can be promoted to regular maids, whose uniforms are designed by fashion designer Keita Maruyama. The white, brown, and pink colors remain the same, but they feature large frills on the shoulders and ribbons in the pockets and they’re really cute!
The last level is the Premium Maid, the top 5% who demonstrate the highest standards of service for our masters and princesses. Furthermore, the Super Premium Maids in the top rank are the highest 1%. Premium Maids become the faces representing all of the @home cafe mansions, and they get a unique color for their ribbon and buttons.
All of our 350 maids are doing their best every day to achieve the next rank, and the support of our masters and princesses – the messages and kind words we get in person and through SNS – give us such a boost of energy, and that’s what gives our maids the power to keep reaching higher.
8) Lastly, what is your secret to staying so moe and kawaii?
Hitomi: We are eternally 17 years old! I use pink makeup a lot, and my hair style is also eternally 17. And don’t forget smiles! Smiling is the universal language in all countries.
Chimu: To be always “genki”! I share my energy with my masters and princesses, and it bring smiles to their faces. Those smiles give me “moe power! At my own home, I always try to maintain my health by taking care of my meals and exercising. Self-confidence makes you feel cute always!
Mizukin: I devote a lot of time to makeup and fashion, so I’m always checking trends on Instagram and YouTube. Also, there are many cute princesses coming to @home cafe, so I exchange recommendations and tips with them, too. But the most magical way to stay “moe” is through the compliments I receive! When a young princess says “kawaii!” it encourages me to try even harder! I think “kawaii” “kakkoii” and “sugoi” are powerful magic words that we should say to each other more often!
Saboten Con will be held August 30 – September 2, 2019, at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix.