st_oswald (st_oswald) wrote in japan_now,

Cross-dressing men in Tokyo

Kenty is one of an increasing number of young Japanese men choosing to spend their time as women.

In response to an article by Japan's Sankei News about increasing numbers of young men choosing to dress as women in Japan, the blog posted a round-up of some of the country's top cross-dressing bloggers. The general consensus? "It's okay so long as they're pretty."

Truth be told, Japan has always had a live-and-let-live attitude towards transvestitism. Onna-gata, male actors in drag, are a beloved part of the Kabuki theater. But the recent explosion in interest among young urban men is a different trend.

Recent developments include a handful of cross-dressing maid cafes, in which men decked out in lace and frills serve customers. There is now a guidebook for men who want to transform themselves into beautiful girls. And last year, lingerie company WishRoom released a bra designed specifically for men.

It's hard to say exactly how popular the activity truly is among average Japanese males. The occasional Harajuku fashion-victim aside, men in skirts are hardly commonplace. But one thing is for sure. In Tokyo, there's never been a better time to get in touch with your feminine side.

At Hibari-kei, your maid just might be a master - actually they ALL are, since this unique floating Maid Cafe is the first in Japan to feature cross-dressing male maid servers.

Tokyo's Akihabara district is famed for its Maid Cafes - small, often themed restaurants staffed by young women wearing maid costumes. From humble beginnings, the Maid Cafe phenomenon has branched out to include Eyeglasses Cafes, Ear-cleaning Cafes, even Scientist Lab Coat Cafes... all featuring nubile servers of the feminine persuasion.

Gender equality is intruding into this particular perfumed world, however. First came Butler Cafes; basically the reverse of the usual Maid Cafe in which elegant male butlers served mainly female customers with upper class English civility. Now the other high-heeled shoe has dropped: get ready for Hibari-kei, "the one and only cross-dressing maid cafe in Akiba."

Hibari-kei is staffed by cross-dressing male waiters who, for the most part, work at assorted IT industry jobs in the Akihabara area. By day they look and act like average Japanese salarymen - by night, look out! That fashionably dressed, soft-spoken techie who replaced your computer's hard drive this morning just could be Chazuke (left) or Ichigoneko (Strawberry Cat), two of Hibari-kei's many marvelous male maids.

If you'd like to visit Hibari-kei - their clientele seems to be a unisex mix - visit their website to find out their latest location. Yes, Hibari-kei is a sort of "floating cafe" that holds pre-planned events at several regular Maid Cafes in the area, such as Royal Milk, Nomidokoro Wood and Honey Sheep. The website also provides news on the evening's theme; for example, the popular Nostril Challenge... I'll just leave that to your imagination. Hibari-kei's website is worth a visit even if you don't live in Japan, as the maids have their own profile pages and some of those link to their personal blogs.

All in all, Hibari-kei offers something off the beaten track to visitors who think they've seen everything Japanese Otaku culture has to offer.

SOURCE: Japanese / English / English
Tags: miscellaneous news
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