Japan is a magnificent mix of traditional values and advanced thinking. Where hot springs are just as popular as maid cafes. A place where working 16 hours a day, or dressing up as a fictional character to escape reality, is absolutely normal.
While dining in a traditional Japanese restaurant is really hard to top, the experience isn’t truly complete until you’ve visited one of the places on our Top 10 Most Bizarre Bars and Restaurants in Japan. So here they are, ranging from the “Oh, that’s a little strange” to the “Oh. My. God”. Enjoy.
An Arabian den in the middle of Tokyo which offers Eurasian cuisines, what’s so bizarre about that? Granted it’s not the most bizarre place you can wonder into but it is a little out of the ordinary. Decorated like Sinbad’s or Aladdin’s, favorite haunt, the Arabian Rock is fully decked out with Persian rugs, hookahs, belly dancers and costume-wearing staff.
- Arabian Rock – 2-3F Square Building, 1-16-3 Kabuki-Cho, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0021
When in Japan, go to a ninja themed restaurant. This underground hideout complete with drawbridge and hidden doors comes with cleverly named menu items and ninja staff who entertain customers with stealth-like magic tricks. But don’t let the novelty fool you, the food is very classy and a tad on the pricey side.
- Ninja – 2-14-3 Akasaka Tokyo Plaza, Chiyoda-Ku
Alice in Wonderland
If you’ve ever felt a little jealous of Alice and her trippy adventures in wonderland, then this is the place for you. Your experience will go beyond a mere Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, for every detail pays homage to Lewis Carrol’s mind-bending story, including the French/Italian cuisine which comes very cleverly presented.
- Alice in Wonderland – Taiyo Bldg, 5F, 8-8-5 Ginza, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo 104 0061
Who says you can’t enjoy a lovely meal in a church-like environment under the prying eyes of various holy statues while admiring some religious paintings and decorations? Well, definitely not the Japanese. At Christon Café you’re in for a very spiritual experience.
- Christon Cafe – 8F Oriental Wave Bldg, 5-17-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku
Coffins, crucifixes and sweet, crimson blood splashed all over the floor are just some of the elaborate decorations you’ll find at Vampire Café in the Ginza district. Gothic-Lolita waitresses offer you red wine, oops I mean, offer you some poor victim’s blood as you take a seat in your private booth heavily draped with red curtains. But don’t expect Dracula to jump out from behind a coffin at any moment, it’s not that kind of place.
- Vampire Cafe – 7F La Paix Building, 6-7-6 Ginza, Chuo-Ku
The Japanese are known to be workaholics but this might be taking things a little to far. As the name suggests the bar/cafe looks just like an office with desks, a photocopier, bookshelves and a great view. It’s never been so cool to stay back and have a few drinks at the office.
- Office – Yamazaki Bldg, 5F, Kita Aoyama 2-7-18, Minato-ku
Maybe you’d like to take a trip down memory lane and enjoy a lovely meal in a school cafeteria. Yep, Kyushokutoban translated means School Lunch Duty. Everything is decorated to make it look just like a classroom and school canteen, even the staff are in uniform and serve your food on a tray. However, in this cafeteria you can also indulge in a beer or some childhood themed cocktails.
- Kyushokutoban – Moto Asakusa 1-4-4, Taito-ku
It’s not so much the place but rather the owner, Mark Kagaya, that makes this bar worthwhile checking out. Things like greeting customers in a large, green frog costume, dressing up and performing according to the style of drink you’ve ordered and serving drinks in novelty, vibrating glasses have made this bar a huge success in Japan.
- Kagaya – Hanasada Building. B1F, 5-12, Shinbashi 2-Chome, Minato-Ku
It’s Tokyo’s mayonnaise heaven! Or hell, depending on your taste buds. As you can imagine, everything on the menu contains mayonnaise, including mayonnaise pizza, mayonnaise cocktail and mayonnaise dessert.
- Mayonnaise Kitchen – 2-5-17 S&T.ITOH.Bld 4F
First you hear a creak, then a scream in the distance, you turn the corner to see a man strapped in an electric chair shouting and writhing in pain. And that’s before you’ve been seated. The Lockup is a haunted prison themed restaurant, where you’ll be handcuffed and taking to a dark private cell dining for the evening. Your drinks will also be served in syringes, beakers and test tubes. But try not to spill it all over yourself when a stark, raving lunatic, whose running loose in the restaurant, scares the living hell out of you. Enjoy.
- The Lockup – 33-1 Udagawa-cho (just off Center-gai, Shibuya Grand Tokyo Bldg B2F)
Of course this is only a handful of the unusual places to eat out in Tokyo. If you’re lucky enough to take a trip to this great city make sure you try some out for yourself!
Written by Miriam Sleiman.