A few years ago, a news story went viral on Facebook about a strange restaurant in Japan that allowed patrons to taste the…ahem…posteriors of pretty women. Soon it became evident that it was an adult film, but then again for some time the topic was hotly debated in the comments section.
But then again, we’re talking about Japan, and for many Western nations it really is a strange land with very eccentric customs. Their animated features (anime) are different from Pixar offerings and the Cartoon Channel shows, they have middle-aged men riding the subway while reading manga, and people have an affinity with high tech, the martial arts, and Godzilla. Their most famous sports include both baseball and Sumo wrestling.
So although the story later proved to be a hoax, there’s no shortage of restaurants with strange themes in Japan. In Tokyo alone, you’ll find many weird dining places that you’ll probably never find in any other country.
Here are some of the most fascinatingly strange restaurants in Japan today:
- Robot Restaurant. The Japanese people has maintained a very long love affair with robots for many decades now, and there’s probably no stopping their passion for mechanized versions of humanity. And in Tokyo, you can see this love for the robots in the appropriately-named Robot Restaurant. Be warned though; it’s in the Kabukicho red-light district in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
This place was supposedly built for a billion yen, and that’s more than $88 million. And don’t even think about coming here for the food. The fare is nothing more special than what you get in bento boxes from any convenience store in the area, along with beer in cans, bottled tea, and chu-hai.
What’s really stunningly different is the entertainment, and each night features 4 shows that last for an hour and a half. These shows include women in bikinis staging mock battles with robots, along with enormous female cyborgs and literal pneumatic busts. All around you are video screens and mirrors, and lots of neon. There’s even a gilded toilet!
- Shooting Bar EA. The Japanese have very different ideas about firearms—they’re rare among ordinary citizens, but the country does have this bar that combines alcohol and firearms. That doesn’t sound like a very wise decision, but at least here you only get the BB versions.
The idea of the theme is simple. Are you a gun fanatic, or is it simply that you want to let off some steam by firing a few shots (and drinking a few shots too)? If that’s the case, you can come here and fire handguns like the Walther PPK, which is James Bond’s signature pistol. Or if rifles are more your thing you can take an AK-47 out for a spin. And in between, you can drink shots with names like Desert Warrior and Colt Government.
- Niagara. The Japanese also love their trains, and their railway fanatics have a hangout in this restaurant. This 50-year old restaurant is devoted to railway memorabilia, and it says “Shop with a Railway Feeling” right over the entrance.
The décor’s main features are the miniature train chugging along the bar, while you sit in passenger car-style seats taken from actual trains. The menu includes cho-tokkyu (super express) spicy menu based on Japanese-style curry, along with toppings like deep fried prawn and deep fried pork cutlet. After you order, your food arrives via the restaurant’s model railway delivery system.
- Alcatraz ER. Yes, it’s not just a restaurant taking after the notorious prison, but the prison’s hospital. It doesn’t give you a very comfortable vibe, especially as it’s located in a somewhat dilapidated building in the very center of the Shibuya “love hotel” district. The food is strictly izakaya, but you get drinks served in syringes and even in urine bottles. And the waitresses look scary too in their surgical masks and discomfiting nurse’s uniforms.
- Zauo. Are you sometimes worried that the fish they serve in restaurants aren’t all that fresh? Now here you don’t have to worry at all—because you catch the fish yourself! Of course, angling isn’t always a very easy proposition but then again there’s a certain satisfaction in obtaining your own food this way.
Once you catch the fish, you can then have it prepared for you by experts. The seating area is also shaped like a boat too.
- Asadachi. This place isn’t about the décor at all. In fact, there’s really nothing great about its location, as it is just a hole in the wall in an area in Shinjuku known as “Piss Alley”.
But here, the theme is all about the cuisine, as it serves what it delicately calls “stamina food”. And what you get here are dishes like raw pig testicles, the heart of a cow, and grilled salamander. If you can face these options with equanimity, you’re a true Gryffindor.
So if you’re ever in Tokyo, forget the usual Japanese restaurants which you can find back home in your country. Try these new places—you won’t find them anywhere else!