Some people enjoy dinner and a show, but sometimes in Japan, dinner is the show. Tokyo in particular has number of popular themed restaurants, including those that feature giant robots, ninjas and vampires, but it also has a wealth of lesser-known ones devoted to a variety of fetishes ranging from the thrilling (shinkansen bullet trains) to the ordinary (stationery).
If your idea of a good time means scantily clad women operating 3-meter tall robots, then Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant is the place for you. The so-called restaurant (it’s really more about the show) has become one of the top tourist spots in the capital for visitors looking for authentic Japanese weirdness. Guests are treated to an hour-long show, featuring scantily clad women performing 21st-century burlesque, which means robots, strobles, techno and glo-sticks.
After the ninja greets you at Ninja Akasaka, you’ll be lead down the same path as Japanese prime ministers, Hollywood stars and rich company executives. The popular restaurant that has drawn visitors from around the world hosts special dinners that are treated like a magic show, with ninjas darting between tables performing tricks right before your eyes.
The Kawasaki restaurant-bar is themed on the space monsters who Ultraman battled in the sci-fi TV series, whose popularity with kids pushed its viewer rating as high as 45 percent. In addition to more than 200 kaiju figures and photos on display, the bar offers kaiju-themed dishes that stir memories of old “Ultraman” episodes.
When you enter the book-shaped entrance of Ehon no Kuni no Alice (literally “Alice’s Picture Book World”), you’re entering a restaurant themed after the classic Lewis Carroll’s book. With its Wonderland-themed decor and menu, the restaurant will surely be a hit for fans, or even if you’re unfamiliar with Carroll’s dark fairytale, the carefully crafted food and desserts will delight.
Tetsudo-Izakaya literally translates as “railway pub,” so expect no less. The bar is themed like a shinkansen carriage, with waiters punching fake tickets and railway memorabilia lining the walls. Located in Tokyo’s Akihabara, the restaurant is mainly targeted at Japan’s railway geeks but it still provides an only-in-Japan experience for visitors.
All the mirrors are broken, the floors are lit up like red blood cells and there’s an option to sit at a table shaped like a coffin and drink cocktails like Blood Clot or the humble Bloody Mary. Just guess what this one’s about. One of the older but still charming themed restaurants, Vampire Cafe is located in Ginza, will scare the living daylights out of you as you suck down a tasty drink.
Located in Akihabara, the mecca of otaku, Gundam Cafe is based on Bandai’s famous anime series. This is mainly for fans of Gundam, with customers able to pose with waitresses dressed as characters from the show and to enjoy a Gundam-theme menu that even has its own unique Gundam coffee blend.
The Parco Cafe, located in the Parco Building in Shibuya has a rolling theme, with the current one being My Melody Cafe, a character from the same creators of Hello Kitty.
This means My Melody-themed food and goods, but the cafe will change themes in February and it’s always interesting to keep an eye on the space to see what diners are in for next.
The popular Finnish characters already have their own theme park in Finland but now the Japanese can enjoy all the treats they can handle at Tokyo’s Moomin Cafe. Serving Finnish and other European-style food, Moomin Cafe is adorned with the hippopotamus-like characters that make Moomin so charming. Grab a seat, grab a doll and enjoy a coffee break.
It might seem like a paper-thin idea, but Bunbougu Cafe does something different at its stationery establishment. Customers have free reign over all of the stationery around the store to draw and write on with while enjoying their meal. Members are given a key to unlock desk draws around the cafe adding to the fun.
You’re not really stepping into the past at Streamline Cafe, but rather a “retro-future” as owner Hideharu Wakabayashi says, with the impressive amount of antiques dotting the store offset by the bar’s sleek metallic counters. The menu, for the most part, doesn’t reflect Wakabayashi’s “retro-future” but it does serve some 1930s era liquor.
All of the help at the Hibari-tei cafe in bustling Akihabara are dressed as maids, and they call the customers “master.” It’s pretty much like any other maid cafe in Tokyo’s electronics district, except for one small detail. All of them are male, wearing wigs to go along with their female uniforms. Designed to be a place for men who are still too shy to talk with women, this is a unique alternative to typical maid cafes.
Guess what you can do to your lungs’ content at Tobacco Cafe? With smoking allowed on all three floors and smoke neutralizers to dissipate fellow patrons’ fumes, Tokyo’s salarymen might find comfort here as smoking-friendly cafes in Tokyo dwindle. The cafe’s special coffee blend has a bitter taste, but apparently it goes great with a cigarette.
The theme around Capcom’s bar is games, games and more games. Drinks and meals are designed after its popular franchises like “Resident Evil” and “Monster Hunter.” The menu also changes along with the release of Capcom’s newest games meaning that fans can keep returning to find (and taste) something new.
Less cafe and more of a church to Japan’s most famous idol group, the AKB48 Cafe has its walls lined with televisions playing nothing but AKB48 music videos along with a small merchandise store next door. Interestingly the menu is based off social media posts by the actual members of AKB48 on what they enjoy eating and drinking at home.
Gorging on good food isn’t a crime at The Lock Up, where you’re guided into a dungeon, handcuffed by leather clad waitresses and locked into your cell to be served drinks from beakers and syringes. Occasionally the lights cut out, smoke fills the room and waiters dressed as monsters rattle the bars to your cage. It’s a scream.