Last year, Rainer Jenss traveled around the world with his wife and two sons, and blogged about his experience here on Intelligent Travel. Now he’s writing a column that focuses on traveling with kids.

Photo: Japan's Maid CafesDuring a recent visit to Japan, I had a chance to explore a side of Tokyo that was quite different from the one I saw when I was last in the city with my family almost two years ago. Before the trip, I came across a magazine article about a new trend in Tokyo that’s grown out of the Japanese subculture obsessed with video games, manga, and anime characters. Eccentric themed restaurants called Maid Cafés were sprouting up all over the city and throughout the country to give these Otaku die-hards a place to hang out, and I was curious to see what all the buzz was about.

Not long after arriving, I began to realize these cafés were not part of some secret underground society. They were advertised all around town, especially on the metro trains. Because both my sons, like most boys in the U.S., are really into video games, I asked some locals if they were popular with kids. I was assured that they not only attracted the hardcore gamers, but were getting quite popular with couples, tourists, and the simply curious. Being rather inquisitive myself, I decided to check one out to see just how appropriate they’d be for families.

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