Tokyo is well known for its crazy themed cafes; from the kawaii (cute) to the absolutely outrageous. If you are looking for different, strange or downright bizarre food experiences in Tokyo, then this post has got you covered!
While you might not experience a Michelin Star type meal in many of these themed cafes in Tokyo, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about the experience and the fun. And boy, you will get that in bucketloads.
I highly recommend visiting at least one of these themed cafes in Tokyo during your time in Japan – you won’t regret it!
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The Lock-Up – Eat Dinner In a Jail Cell
The Lock-Up is a prison-themed restaurant located in Shinjuku, Tokyo which is styled somewhat on the infamous Alcatraz Prison of California. It comes complete with dimly lit corridors, prison guards, scary prisoners plus the added enjoyment of eating in a locked cell. It is unlike anything you will have ever experienced before and well worth checking out.
It really isn’t for the faint-hearted or the easily scared but if you have an interest in creepy diners or if you like horror movies, then this is probably the right Japanese themed cafe for you.
Whilst living in Japan, I took plenty of family and friends who came to visit me to The Lock Up. They loved the craziness of it all and the ‘surprise’ that often takes place during your meal. (Hey, I’m not one to ruin surprises so you’ll have to check it out for yourself!).
The food is nothing to write home about but the menu most definitely is ‘horror-filled’ and a great addition to the atmosphere of the place. You can expect to see images of guts, brains and eyeballs. It isn’t the most appealing menu I’ve ever seen but it most certainly unique. I recommend trying the test tubes or a “floating eyeball gin and tonic” to go with your meal.
The food might not be great but the staff are simply incredible at creating a terrifying but fun atmosphere by roaming around in ghoulish attire and jumping out when you least expect it.
Location: Shinjuku branch, 6–7F Shinjuku Square Building, 1-16-3 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Open: Sun–Thu and public holidays, 5 p.m.–1 a.m.; Fri, Sat, the day before public holidays, 5 p.m.–3 a.m.
The Robot Restaurant
The Robot Restaurant is one of the most popular and well known Japanese themed cafes in Tokyo. The cafe is located in the Kabukicho area of Tokyo, right next to the red-light district. Upon entering, it almost feels like you are stepping into an alternate universe. It’s unlike anything you will have ever seen before; flashing lights, neon signs and psychedelic mirrors. So be warned, The Robot Restaurant is a complete and utter sensory overload.
Although it is classed as a restaurant, there really isn’t much food on offer. You can grab some small snacks and drinks before the show and during the interval so don’t visit here hungry for dinner. Let’s be honest though, the main attraction is the show itself and what a show it is. There are gigantic robotic animals ridden by scantily clad Japanese women, extreme ninja battles and loud, brash live music.
The late great Anthony Bourdain called this place “the greatest show on Earth” so if that doesn’t sell it, nothing will.
Get Tickets Here: The Robot Restaurant (with a 38% discount!)
Location: Shinjuku Robot Bldg. B2F, 1-7-7 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku.
Website: Book Here
Opening hours: Daily 4pm-11pm
Eat with Japanese Ninja’s
Fancy dining in amongst carefully skilled, mystical ninjas? Well, you can do just that in this quite hard to find Ninja themed restaurant in Tokyo. It is located on a quiet Akasaka street complete with a ‘hidden’ entrance door. This all adds to the mystery of the themed restaurant.
Once you enter the restaurant, a ninja will guide you through secret passageways and narrow trap doors before entering a mystical garden of Eden. Guests then sit in their own private dining area complete with impressive ninja-style decorations.
The food here is good considering it is one of many themed restaurants in Tokyo. Both vegetarians and meat-eaters can be catered for here and you can choose either a set menu or á la carte. I highly recommend going for the set menu especially if you are a first-time visitor but prepare to lose count of the number of courses on offer!
You will also be treated to a spectacular magic show complete with sword skills and card tricks that even the most sceptical can’t help but be amazed by. However, like most Japanese themed cafes and restaurants in Tokyo, it’s not cheap but the experience alone is well worth the price.
Get Tickets Here: Ninja Restaurant Experience
Address : 2-14-3, Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Tokyu plaza Akasaka 1F
Tel : 03-5157-3936
Opening Hours : [Mon – Sat] 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM (Door Close 10:30PM), [Sun, Holiday] 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM (Door Close 09:45PM)
Be served by Maids at a Maid Cafe
Maid Cafes are themed restaurants which were first established in Tokyo’s Akihabara district (known as the tech world of Tokyo). They are quite popular among tourists and the Japanese alike and they have now spread to other parts of Japan too.
All of the servers are young, pretty women dressed in cosplay maid outfits. For some, they are considered sleazy and kinky, however, there are strict rules enforced in these cafes. You most likely will be addressed as master /mistress but you are not allowed to touch, take photos of or ask personal information about any of the maids.
If you want to experience a Japanese themed maid cafe then I highly recommend the Maidreamin chain which is very mainstream and tourist-friendly. Yes, the food is overpriced and ‘cutesy’ and the maids will most likely come and sing to you but if you’re looking for strange food experiences in Tokyo, this is definitely one to check out!
Be Rainbow dazzled at the Kawaii Monster Cafe
The Kawaii Monster Cafe can only really be described as rainbow colours on acid. Everything everywhere is rainbow coloured and humongous. It is almost on par with The Robot Restaurant in terms of loud, pulsating music, neon lights and crazy sculptures. Sebastian Masuda is the creative genius behind the monsters and dessert explosions in this cafe.
At the centre of everything in this themed cafe in Tokyo is a gigantic pink monster cake, which doubles up as a stage. You can expect mediocre food but a crazy neon, glittery performance by dancers in monster costumes. This is definitely one of those ‘out-there’ experiences in Japan and one you really shouldn’t miss. Oh – and get the rainbow spaghetti too while you’re there!
Get Tickets Here: Kawaii Monster Cafe Reservation (Official Partner)
Address: Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 4 Chome−31−10 YMスクエア 4F
Tel: +81 3-5413-6142
Website: Book Here
Dine ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ Style
The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme is hugely popular all across Japan so it’s no wonder that there are several pop-up restaurants which are Alice-themed. They can vary in theme, decor and food depending on the destination. The most popular Alice in Wonderland cafe is in Shinjuku.
In front of the restaurant, there are lots of fake food items which is quite typical of a lot of food outlets across Tokyo and beyond.
Once you enter, the first thing you will notice is the decadent decor of Alice in Wonderland; storybook wallpaper depicting scenes from Alice in Wonderland, waitresses dressed in Alice’s costumes, kawaii food like Caterpillar sushi rolls and Cheshire Car parfait. It almost makes you feel as if you are part of the book/movie. The staff too were very friendly and they were more than happy to indulge us for photos and allowed us to look around.
There isn’t anything that unusual about the food menu; soup, pasta, bread, all served in bowls decorated in Alice attire but if you’re an Alice fan, this is something you shouldn’t miss out on!
Get Tickets Here: Alice in Wonderland Cafe
Address: 1-5-1, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0023
Hours: Lunch: 11:00 – 14:30(L.O.14:30), Cafe: 14:30 – 16:00(L.O.15:30), Dinner: 17:00 – 23:30(L.O.22:30)
Website: Book Here
Go Back to School at Rokunen Yonkumi
Do you ever wish you could go back to your school days and experience them all over again? Me neither ha! However, just in case you were curious about primary education in Japan, then fill your curiosity at Rokunen Yonkumi, a school-themed izakaya in Shinjuku. It’s actually located right above The Lock Up so you could technically go from prison to school or vice versa!
Like most Japanese themed cafes, this place goes above and beyond to create an authentic atmosphere. You can expect to find blackboards, chalk, small wooden chairs and world flags. While you won’t be expected to act like a child (they serve alcohol!), there is some role play going on; a teacher will bring you to your classroom, you may be expected to line up and sometimes a ‘quiz’ will come out of nowhere at you.
The food on offer is simple izakaya-style dishes with a school twist. They also offer free sweets/candy too – baskets and baskets of it. However, what you take, you must eat – exactly like school! The cafe itself is quite small but the prices are reasonable and it is definitely something different to do during a visit to Tokyo.
Get Tickets Here: Explore Tokyo Restaurants That You Won’t Find In Any GuideBook
Address: 1-16-3 Kabukicho | Shinjuku Square Bldg. 9F, Shinjuku 160-0021
Tel: +81 3-5292-0640
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I am spending my first week in Japan staying in Shinjuku so I am SO glad that a lot of these are based there. As amazing as the first cafe sounds, I am a very jumpy person so I am not sure if I would like it! The Robot Restaurant is already on my to-do list and I can’t wait! I am a massive fan of Alice in Wonderland too! So many amazing cafes to chose from! I would love to visit the Ninja Restaurant! What were the veggie food like in the other cafes? Thanks for such an informative post!! xx
Oh I love Japan’s quirkiness. These would all be an experience to remember.
They definitely are! The Lock Up still haunts me!
I’m so sad that I missed out on all of these themed restaurants when I was in Japan, I would’ve loved to have gone to the Alice in Wonderland one!
oh no! Well that means you need to go back, right? Hope you had a good time when you were there.
The ninja one sounds intriguing 🙂 I’ve never been to a themed restaurant before and Tokyo has been on my travel bucket list for a long time. Great post!
Yeah I didn’t know what to expect. It’s expensive but it’s not like anything you can experience anywhere else. Go to Tokyo! It’s everything you imagined and more!
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These cafes are so interesting! I have always found that asia have really creative ideas for their cafe and i really want to visit them one day. Thanks for sharing! :)x
jesica — talesfromjes.com
Thanks for your comment! Yeah I have never seen anything like the cafes and restaurants in Asia – they are on another level aren’t they? Also thank you for subscribing to my blog. I plan on getting newsletters and freebies sent out soon!
I loved the Robot Restaurant but have not yet been to the Ninja Restaurant…next time!
I want to go to Japan just for these Cafes alone!!!
Thanks, Nicola – I hope you get to go someday!
I didn’t know Tokyo had so many themed restaurants! It would be really interesting to see how primary education is in Japan at Rokunen Yonkumi.
Thanks, Celine – it’s really just a play on primary education in Japan although the waiters do treat you like pupils haha. It’s bizarre but a lot of fun!
You found sooo many good ones! My husband complained that I don’t normally take him to the kooky or crazy places in Japan…I guess I’ll have to visit some of these on our next visit. 😀
Thanks so much Josy – I had plenty of time to find them all and i’ve more to add as I lived in Tokyo for a few years until recently. Themed restaurants are so popular among tourists there! You’ll definitely have to try some out on your next visit!
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Tokyo a few times and have visited themed restaurants – they are SO much fun! Thanks for sharing these!
Thanks for your comment Andi – the themed restaurants really are a LOT of fun aren’t they! I’ve never experienced anything quite like it anywhere else!
I’m so sad that I missed out on the Robot Restaurant when I was in Tokyo – it looks so fun! The only themed cafe I visited during my trip was a hedgehog cafe, and I really regret my visit. I felt so sorry for those poor hedgehogs!
The Lock-Up looks a tiny bit terrifying, not going to lie… Definitely looks like quite the experience that I doubt you would forget in a hurry!
I hoed rly didn’t know what a themed cafe was before reading this post but it looks so interesting! If I ever visit Japan, I will definitely try to make it to one of these.
I love how weird and wonderful everything in Japan seems to be- this is a great list!
These look SO fun! I’m all about the experience so I don’t even know which one I’d try first. Probably the robot cafe…or maybe the ninjas! lol