Japan has a highly diverse food culture brought from all over the world, and it’s definitely no stranger to themed restaurants, whether these be Hello Kitty eateries, animal cafés or airsoft shooting bars; it has it all. However, some of these establishments are stranger (and more fun) than others. We have selected some of the quirkiest and most unusual themed restaurants in the country where eating is only part of the experience:
1. Hananomai Ryougoku [Tokyo Prefecture]
Credit: www.gurunavi.comThis is exactly the kind of restaurant you would only find in Japan. The tables are all distributed around a sumo ring, with live performances carried out on Sundays. The restaurant, which is covered in all sorts of sumo memorabilia, is open until 12am every day of the year, and it has a seating capacity of 200 people. Waiters are dressed in kimonos and often serenade customers with traditional Japanese ballads.
Address: 1-3-20, Yokozuna, Sumida, Tokyo PrefectureAccess:By subway: just a 1-minute walk from JR Ryogoku Station.Recommended period: Anytime.Contact:Hananomai RyougokuWithin Japan: 03-5619-4488
2. Alice in Labyrinth [Tokyo Prefecture]
Credit: www.alice-restaurant.comAlice in Labyrinth is a top fantasy eatery in the Ginza neighborhood of the Japanese capital; a look into Alice in Wonderland’s world. Tables are actually giant playing cards, while private booths are located inside huge tea cups, like the ones featured in the Alice books. The food, often assembled in the shape of rabbits and cats, is actually of a more than decent quality. Alice in Labyrinth is one of the most popular restaurants among international visitors in the city.
Address: Sun building 5F, 8-8-5, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061Access:By subway: it’s a 5-minute walk from the Ginza station on the Ginza, Marunouchi and Hibiya lines.Recommended period: Anytime.Contact:Alice in LabyrinthWithin Japan: 03-3574-6980
3. Robot Restaurant [Tokyo Prefecture]
Credit: www.flickr.comRobot Restaurant can best be described as a neo-futuristic neon extravaganza. Located in the commercial ward of Shinjuku, within the Kabukicho entertainment district, this restaurant offers a daily, 90-minute show featuring giant robots, loud music, costumed dancers, glow sticks, winged dinosaurs and lots of blinding LED lights. Despite the name, food is secondary here, and it’s entirely possible to not order any food at all. Enjoy the show!
Address: B2F Shinjuku Robot Bldg, 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-kuTokyoAccess:By subway: 5-minute walk from Shinjuku Station on the Yamanote, Chuo, Marunouchi, Keio and Odakyu lines.Recommended period: Anytime.Contact:Robot RestaurantWithin Japan: 03-3200-5500
4. Ninja Akasaka [Tokyo Prefecture]
Credit: Wikimedia CommonsOnce you step into the restaurant, you will be greeted by a staff of ninjas who will escort you to your table through a maze of cavernous corridors. The modern, creative Japanese food opposes the dark, Shogun-era decor, both impressive. Ninja Akasaka’s signature menu, the Yamato Sprit Course, is an 11-course meal with the restaurant’s main specialties, including star-shaped grissini, salmon, sushi and a mystery dish.
Address: 2-14-3 Nagata-chō, Akasaka Tōkyū Plaza, Chiyoda-kuAccess:By subway: just a short walk from Akasaka-mitsuke Station on the Ginza line.Recommended period: Anytime.Contact:Ninja Akasaka RestaurantWithin Japan: 03-5157-3936
5. Zauo Fishing Restaurant [Fukuoka Prefecture]
Credit: www.flickr.comWith different branches all over Japan (including Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka), this is one of the most successful restaurant chains in the country. The concept is very simple: customers can fish their own food before the chef cooks it. Tables are usually located in a wooden ship inside a pool full of different fish. Moreover, these restaurants are all arranged to resemble a harbor. Baits can be purchased upon entering the eatery.
Address: 79-6, Oda, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka 819-0203Access:By subway: just a short walk from the Akasaka Station, on the Kuko line.Recommended period: Anytime.Contact:Zauo Restaurant FukuokaWithin Japan: 92-716-9988
6. The Vampire Café [Tokyo Prefecture]
Credit: www.diamond-dining.comOne of Tokyo’s creepiest eateries, The Vampire Café, looks straight out of an Anne Rice novel. Managed by Diamond Dining, the company which also runs the Alice restaurant and the infamous Christon Café (a Christian-themed restaurant), the Vampire Café has coffin-shaped menus, blood-stained walls, baroque-looking candles and waiters dressed up like Dracula.
Address: La Paix Building 7F 6-7-6 Ginza, Chuou-ku, TokyoAccess:By subway: just a 3-minute walk from Ginza Station.Recommended period: Anytime.Contact:The Vampire CaféWithin Japan: 03-3289-5360
7. Alcatraz ER [Tokyo Prefecture]
Credit: www.flickr.comModeled after your average horror movie prison and hospital—all at once—Shibuya’s Alcatraz ER is, easily, one of the most disturbing themed restaurants in Japan. Guests are first greeted by a decapitated nurse, and then guided to a private, dark cell. The menu is just as odd as the decor: human intestines, syringes, severed heads and even vibrators are some of the items on the list. Prepare to be scared and repeatedly ‘stabbed’ by clowns, doctors and all kinds of creepy characters.
Address: Harvest Building 2/F, 2-13-5 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-kuAccess:By subway: located directly outside Shibuya Station.Recommended period: Open Sunday to ThursdayContact:Alcatraz ERWithin Japan: 3 3770 7100by Virginia Gonzalez