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Drinking with the dead at Tokyo’s zombie bar

by Angela Erika Kubo

Once a month, Night Gallery Cafe Crow in Roppongi becomes a horror scene straight out of a George A. Romero film, as zombies descend upon the small venue. For more than two years, zombie performance unit Zombiena has been renting out the place every last Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. to hold what it calls a Zombie Bar.

“The bar becomes like a festival during the zombie event,” says Meimy, also known as Zombiena No. 001. “The customers jumble together. We’ll put one customer with a group of three and they’ll become four. It’s a bit wild, but that’s just how our customers like it.”

In addition to a ¥1,500 bar charge, alcoholic cocktails are ¥900 each, with petrifying preparations such as Cocktail of Zombie Virus, Campari of the Dead and Zom-beer. The bartender, Zombiena No. 023, declines to reveal what goes into the drinks, but she does say, “I squeezed the zombie virus from myself.”

Every month the group comes up with new drink recipes — all inspired by zombie culture — to keep things interesting.

“It’s good and easy to drink,” says a first-time customer, Takashi Takeuchi, who has ordered one of the monthly specials, Zombie no Yuwaku (Seduction of the Zombies), a deep red, milky cocktail.

If you need a “cure,” for ¥700 there are virgin zombie cocktails to revive you, such as The Antidote and The Spell of Resurrection.

The bar doesn’t have a large food selection but if your stomach can handle it, you can order “zombie flesh” (¥500): thick chunks of ham covered in a gruesome-looking bluish-green sauce.

The most exciting part of the event is the zombie feedings. If you’re brave enough you can pay ¥500 to have slices of ham placed on your body and feed yourself to a hungry zombie, to an upbeat pop soundtrack. Just expect to go home that night with red paint all over your shirt and crotch.

“It’s a bit vulgar, but if you drink a bit of alcohol and loosen up I recommend it,” says Meimy.

The members of Zombiena are friendly, but they’re persistent about having you don zombie makeup (¥500) so that you can become one of them. They have plenty of makeup remover on hand for those who want to clean up before hopping on the train, but according to the organizers, some customers like to keep the makeup on and go party at night.

On days when the bar is too small to contain the dead, they spill out of the building and shuffle around the area. If you’ve missed the group’s Halloween nightclub performances or their large-scale zombie walks through Yoyogi Park, you can watch them shuffle around Roppongi on a Sunday afternoon.

2F Rock and Rock Bldg., 7-8-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 03-3497-9119; www.cafecrow.net; www.zombiena.net). Angela Erika Kubo is a freelance writer and bar lover based in Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @aekubo.