Anyone who’s been to Ikebukuro’s Otome Road would have heard about “Swallowtail,” the top butler cafe in Japan. An extremely popular concept cafe run by the same company that operates the K-BOOKS stores, reservations must be made two weeks in advance to be able to get a slot in the 43 80-minute tea time slots from 10:30 AM until 8:00 PM, or five 90-minute dinner time slots from 7:00 PM until 9:15 PM. The course served during tea time and dinner time varies, but one should not miss their most popular food item in the menu, the Anna Maria afternoon tea set. Their tea salon, which they call “mansion” seats 46 customers, who are referred to as Ladies or Lords. It is also located below K-BOOKS Doujin-kan where you can find the largest amount of second hand BL manga and goods in Japan.
Each of Swallowtail’s butlers has a specific position:
- House Stewards, who manage all the butlers and and supervise everything on behalf of the “mansion’s” Lord; They are the keeper of the keys and are in charge of managing the properties such as wine, tea, tableware, and the safe.
- Second Stewards, who pay attention to everything and support the House Stewards;
- Groom of the Chambers, who leads the Footman, and makes sure everything is going smoothly at the mansion;
- Butlers, who manage the schedule of the Lord and Ladies while making sure they have a relaxing time at the tea salon;
- First Footmen, who mainly train new Footmen and sometimes support Butlers. They also serve the Ladies and Lords who come home to the mansion.
- Footmen, who are in charge of many tasks in the mansion. They serve closest to the Ladies, serving tea and food;
- Tea Masters, who are in charge of storing and managing tea leaves as well as making tea for the Lady. They study tea everyday to ensure that Ladies and Lords always enjoy delicious tea; and
- Cuisinier, who is in charge of preparing the food served to the Ladies and Lords.
At present, there are forty butlers: four House Stewards, two Second Stewards, five Groom of Chambers, three Butlers, four First Footmen, sixteen Footmen, three Tea Masters, and one Cuisiner. There is also one Butler Emeritus, a special honorable title given to a person who has long devoted himself as a butler.
To reserve a slot at Swallowtail, you can visit their Reservation page in English: https://www.butlers-cafe.jp/swallowtail/company/reserve_en.html
Swallowtail also has several activities outside the tea salon. The most popular would be their own Opera Company called Shitsuji Kagekidan, composed of Swallowtail butlers who star in musicals, stage plays and concerts. They also sell goods of the cast members and release CDs of the songs. You can check the schedule of their shows on their website: http://www.butlers-cafe.jp/opera/.
There is also the Swallowtail Gift Shop, where one can buy not only sweets and tea leaves but also Swallowtail napkins and teaware, as well as the Opera Company’ goods such as CDs and DVDs. Visit their website to see their sweets and tea lineup for the month: https://www.butlers-cafe.jp/giftshop/
Lastly, there is the recently opened Swallowtail Bar “Blue Moon,” a concept bar where the beverage unit of Swallowtail works as bartenders, serving drinks to the Ladies and Lords every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 7:30 PM until 11:00 PM (2 90-minute slots).
Slots are very limited so make sure to reserve early. Reservations open four days before. https://www.butlers-cafe.jp/bluemoon.html
To learn more about how the butlers work and their Opera Company Shitsuji Kagekidan, we interviewed two of Swallowtail’s butlers, Iori and Kagawa.
About Butler Cafe Swallowtail
Address: Showa Building B1F, 3-12-12, Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo (Access Map)
Operating hours: 10:30 – 22:45 (Please make sure to check the website to know when the cafe is closed)
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