Anyone that’s ever been to the Tokyo area knows how hard it is to become bored in this city. It’s darn near impossible not to be interested in one of the gazillion options this city has to offer.
My personal favorite hobby is to try as many ‘themed’ establishments as possible. I have lived in a few eclectic place before, but Tokyo surely takes the cake for eccentricity. The city is filled with weird, off-the-wall themed cafes, bars, hotels, restaurants and stores to try out.
And because I can’t help but share all the weird awesomeness that seeps from this city, I compiled a comprehensive list of everything interesting, awkward, or otherwise entertaining in Tokyo. Peruse below at your own risk:
Themed Cafes & Restaurants
This rainbow-colored cafe is the next best thing since Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. Not only was it my favorite themed cafe in all of Tokyo, but my boyfriend and his friend loved it too. (That’s saying a lot, coming from two macho-beer loving-football watching-American men!)
Everything in this place is either neon, rainbow, or sparkly. Prepare for a sensory overload as soon as you walk in the doors….which is probably why the food seems to be purposefully mellow.
I wouldn’t call it bland, but the rainbow-bright pancakes and pastas seem purposefully calm to the palate to counteract the rest of the craziness.
- Access: YM square building 4F,
- Link to my experience at the Cafe
The Vibe Bar Wild One
Vibe stands for Vibrator. Yes. It’s exactly what you think it is. Close your eyes, children.
This isn’t a themed cafe, but a themed bar. With a cover charge of 3000yen, you can enter the establishment, imbibe in alcoholic beverages (2 free with entry), don a rubber glove, and test (no, not TRY) any of the 300+ vibrating adult toys inside. If you aren’t giggling with embarassment from the plethora of ticklers, the decor might make you blush a little as well.
The drinks here are very tasty, and named accordingly. I recommend the Eros Boss Cocktail.
To my understanding, this bar has strict rules as to who is allowed to enter. They seem to be a little put-off by non-traditional couples, and have been known to turn them away. No males only, No parties of 3 with a higher male:female ratio. Sorry guys!
Make sure you take a peek in the bathrooms, people. (Just don’t enter the wrong one, like I did.) Let the phallicy begin!
photo courtesy of Time Out Tokyo
What a scream! I mean that in a literal sense. Customers are seated inside cages, locked up and in, and served dishes out of beakers, syringes, and other creepy-containers.
At some point during your stay, the room will fill with fog and the staff will scream and rattle your cage, attempting to scare the ever-loving holy spirit out of your body.
- Access: 5 locations in Tokyo including Ueno, Shibuya, &Shinjuku. Check their website for details
photos courtesy of gaijin japa
Shibuya’s very own prison-hospital themed cafe. You can drink out of decapitated heads, sip on syringe or beaker contained cocktails, or chomp on other creepily-presented dishes including anatomically-correct heart shaped appetizers.
While I think this place is unique and fascinating, the dessert menu makes me a bit queasy. Skip over it unless you wish to see menstrual-inspired dishes served in feminine product-like paper. Ew.
Staff dressed head to toe sneak up from behind customers, delivering food or stealthily removing an empty glass from the table. The best part is watching people attempt to locate their wait staff in this place.
- Access: 100-0014, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Nagatacho
2-14-3 Akasaka Tokyu Plaza 1F
Christon Cafe: (“Christian Themed Cafe”)
Someone decided it would be a great idea to have a Christian themed Cafe. Everything here is meant to resemble traditional churches. You pass the Mother Mary on the way in, as if sneaking into the temple for a beer and a snack.
It seems a little naughty, as if you might be sneaking the passover wine and bread. This place attracts a lot of fetish parties, and has quite a bit of beautiful stained glass and other Christian motifs that are fun to look at.
- Access: 5-17-13 Shinjuku | 8/9F Oriental Wave, Shinjuku 160-0022
Every detail of this place is designed to mimic Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. From the menu (which is oddly gruesome) to the velvet-covered red walls and lighting (candles perched on coffins). The wait staff wear maid outfits or tuxedos, and walk across a floor as red as the walls. Small skulls decorate the walls and tables, along with other creepy knick-knacks. The perfect place to take a vampire-obsessed date.
- Access: 5-17-13 Shinjuku | 8/9F Oriental Wave, Shinjuku 160-0022
By far the most popular themed restaurant in the Tokyo area. It’s popularity comes with a price ticket (7000yen per person!) The small restaurant is full of LED rainbow lights and mirrors, with a stage in the front of the dining area.
This place is popular for a reason. Whether you came for the half naked ladies or the robotic T-rex, you’re going to be entertained one way or another.
- Access: 160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku, Kabukicho, 1 Chome−7−1, 新宿ロボットビルB2
- Link to my experience at Robot Restaurant!
Take a stroll down the main drag in Akihabara, and you’ll be bombarded by many pretty ladies in maid costumes trying to pull you into their shops. The restaurants and cafe’s themselves aren’t necessarily filled with male-only clientelle, and the food and service is on par.
The only difference between a “normal” restaurant and these ones in Japan seems to be tipping culture. (Most restuarants do have a uniform policy, right?) At Maid cafe’s in Japan, the girls will probably want a small tip in exchange for a photo, or a cute design in sauce on your order.
From my experience, most maid cafe’s are located in Akihabara, although there are many more throughout Japan and in other districts.
The popularity of cat cafe’s have now spread outside of Japan, as they have opened up one in my hometown, Seattle Washington. (I am very excited to try this one out!) Tokyo still has one-up on the rest of the world with a plethora of cat, dog, bunny (and hedgehog!), owl, miscellaneous birds, and even a penguin bar!!!!
Most are around 1000yen per hour to mingle with the furry-faces and pet them as you please. Each place is different, but most have beverages or separate rooms with food options.
I’ve been to multiple bunny, cat, and owl cafe’s and must recommend Owls. I was in heaven holding the tiniest little feathered guy the cafe had. He was so cute!
Make sure you check to see if you need to make a reservation in advance. Some cafe’s require a 24 hour reservation in advance.
Alice on Wednesday
While it’s essentially a Japanese version of Claire’s jewelry store, this little shop takes the customer “down the rabbit hole”. Enter the meter-tall door (its more like 2.5 feet) and you are transported onto the Alice in Wonderland set. As I was winding around tables and through beaded doorways, I got lost and couldn’t find my way out!
The walls have small keyholes that produce miniature worlds of wonder, and you can spot a Cheshire cat from the right angles among the drapery.
One room sells sweets, another small earrings and accessories, all trump-card themed or shaped like Disney characters. A must-see for any Alice in Wonderland fan.
- Access: Harajuku, Nagoya, Osaka
Other “I’m not sure what’s going on here” Stuff
Become a Ninja
Enough said. Who doesn’t want to become a certified ninja? That’s what I thought.
Ear Cleaning (What?!) By a cosplay girl
Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on here. According to western medical standards, ear wax is invaluable to the health of your ears, so I personally would avoid such a parlor, however, Japan is weird. There are many commodified things that perhaps shouldn’t necessarily be commodified. This might be one of them.
If I haven’t already put you off of this, and you still want to use this service, simply google “mimikaki” to find a location near you.
Black Rose (S&M Bar)
Don’t pretend like you aren’t even a little interested in this one. Whether you want to sit back and watch another (probably drunk) tourist get whipped on stage? Do you generally enjoy the idea of paying to have someone drip hot wax on you? There’s a little bit for the freak inside everyone here.
Tokyo is actually full of BDSM bars and clubs. There’s a number to choose from, with differing services, menus, and nomi-hodai options (all you can drink).
- Access: 3-24-19 Nishi Azabu
Although there are certainly more I can add to this list, I think I covered a fair amount of the coolest places you can experience in this city. Have you been anywhere noteworthy? Comment below or shoot me an email! I would love to hear all the awesome goodness!