Serving American Military Families
Japanese Maids as Cultural Messengers
The flood of U.S. military families to Tokyo generated a variety of new professional opportunities for Japanese people, and the housemaid was one of the most popular. Borrowed from the English word “maid,” the new Japanese term “meido” was used specifically to refer to housemaids serving U.S. military families, distinguished from jochū, domestic servants in Japanese households. Most applicants for “meido” positions were modern women with advanced educational backgrounds and basic English language skills. A total of 25,000 meido received training from U.S. military housewives on a variety of aspects of the American lifestyle. These women were an integral part of the cross-cultural exchange in everyday life, serving as key intermediaries between the occupiers and the occupied.
“Servants of a medium quality are generally available in Japan. The average family will require about three: a cook, washwoman, and house boy or girl.”
General Information for Dependents Coming to the Tokyo Area,
General Headquarters, United States Army Forces, Pacific, 6 April 1946