It’s no secret that Tokyo has some weird and wonderful things that don’t exist in the West, and that its strangely contradictory traits of open-mindedness and uniformity produce some of the most interesting cultural nuggets in the world.
So, for your delight and amusement, here’s a quick look at 3 of the best themed restaurants in Tokyo. Granted, they definitely a bit crackers, but we love them for it!
1. The Lock-Up
Have you ever dreamed of dining in a haunted prison themed restaurant? Well, it’s your lucky day! Good service isn’t on the menu here – but that’s kind of the whole point.
Handcuffed upon arrival, you’re led to your cell along dark corridors with recorded screams as your background music. You’re then locked up for the duration of your meal.
The cocktails are legendary and aptly named, including Drug Addiction, Bad Loan, and Electric Shock. Brought to you in scientific beakers and syringes, experimenting is part of the fun. The food is Izakaya, which is lots of small plates, and has equally interesting names.
Stick around after your meal and you’ll experience a prison break, where freakishly dressed monsters run riot (and if you’re unlucky may even pay you a visit!) chased by your waiters and waitresses dressed in sexy cop outfits. Brilliant!
Synonymous with ninja culture, Japan is the perfect place for a ninja themed restaurant.
Located in the Akasaka-Mitsuke district, an unmarked black door leads you back in time to a (tasty) Shogun-era adventure. Greeted at the door by a ninja-waiter, you’re given a secret password, then led through a labyrinth of corridors, over a disintegrating bridge, to your table.
The food is awesome – unique modern Japanese with a western twist. Dine on ninja star rice and samurai pizza. One of the more spectacular specials involves a sword being pulled from a coconut shell, releasing a fountain of dry ice.
While you’re eating, the ninjas entertain you with magic tricks and demonstrations – if you’re lucky, you may get a visit from the restaurant’s very own illusionist.
The only thing that isn’t from years gone by is the cost –the experience doesn’t come cheaply, but it’s worth every yen. In fact, it’s a shame that Japanese culture doesn’t foster tipping, because there’s no place more deserving.
3. @home cafe
@home cafe is a pioneer of maid cafes that celebrate the Japanese affection for cuteness. You’re welcomed as the master the minute you enter, and looked after by young Japanese girls dressed as anime-style English Victorian maids. It’s a little titillating, but this cultural phenomenon is no sex joint and is, on the whole, quite innocent.
Queuing time can be as long as two hours, and once you sit at your table you’re presented with a list of rules – no touching, maximum stay one hour, no photographs, etc.
Your adorably dressed, cute maids are masters of conversation, and your menu features a list of cute-sounding options including Cutie Seal Seafood Curry and Cutie Puppy Curry Set. All the food is presented with typically cute faces, and you can also pay to have your photo taken with the anime of your choice. The sense of utter bewilderment comes absolutely free!
With a variety of games available and the odd pop performance thrown in for good measure, this is an experience not to be missed.
Getting to Tokyo
Flights arrive at Haneda or Narita International Airports, and there are many rail and bus options to get you into the city.
Tokyo is the capital of fine dining with nearly twice as many Michelin stars as second-placed Paris, but for a taste of Japanese eccentricity a trip to its themed restaurants is essential.