Japan’s Weird, Themed Restaurants

A while back, Hashi wrote a post about Japan’s Weird, Themed Cafes. While Japan’s cafes are admittedly pretty weird, I think that Japan’s themed restaurants really take the cake as far as being weird goes. Japan has many themed restaurants, most of which are totally unexpected but must make for a pretty unforgettable dining experience, I’m sure.

Alcatraz E.R.

alcatraz

Photo by bjornra

Alcatraz is arguably the most famous themed Japanese restaurant and it started the whole wacky themed restaurant trend about a decade or so ago. The setting is a medical prison and the patrons are the patients. The waitresses are dressed like nurses and upon entry they handcuff you, (pretend to) inject a giant needle into your butt, and lock you into your dining cell. Five star dining right here, folks.

Alcatraz_kitchen

While imprisoned, you can order dishes like the Dead Chicken (two chicken feet clasped together), Penis Sausage (sausage that looks like a most appetizing severed penis) and Intestine (sausage again, but I don’t know why they don’t just use real intestine from an animal). To get the attention of your waiter you have to bang on the cell bars just like in a real prison.

Most of the drinks are served in test tubes and beakers and there are plenty of actors wandering around the place pretending to be escaped patients and spooking you at every given opportunity. The nurses are also pretty scantily dressed, so there’s much eye candy here for the fellas.

Cannibalistic Sushi

human-sushiThis restaurant takes the tradition of eating sushi off a female body (nyotaimori) to a whole new level. This time you’re actually eating what’s inside the female’s body. Of course the body is fake, and made entirely of edibles, but still, this is kinda weird and creepy.

Dressed as a nurse (of course), the waitress wheels the body in on a gurney. She then uses a scalpel to cut a section of flesh out of the woman’s abdomen to expose her crimson innards, blood running everywhere. Her guts, of course, are the sushi. Patrons then go on to chop up the body themselves, searching for their favorite sushi pieces. It’s fun for the whole family.

You can chop it up however you want and eat what you find inside. The dough body will actually bleed sauce as you cut it open and all the intestines and organs inside seem to be completely editable. Yum yum.

Ninja Akasaka

ninja-akasaka

Photo by hinagiku

This restaurant is all about ninjas and is located in Tokyo’s Akasake-Mitsuke business district. The entrance leads to a maze of cave-like corridors where staff escort you through a labyrinth of trap doors and trick drawbridges before seating you at your private table. Ninja magicians come to perform their ninja magic while you dine. Others sneak up with menus and food, and there’s plenty of neat things to look at while dining.

The maze-like interior is meant to make the place seem like an old Japanese castle and all of the meals are themed after ninjas and feudal age Japan. This, along with Alcatraz, is another one of the most popular and well known themed restaurants in Japan.

Ye olde Tofugu team even traveled to this restaurant way back in the day. To read all about it and see a video documenting the trip, you can check out this ancient post from Erin here.

Alice of Magic World

restaurant-aliceIf you didn’t already guess from the name, Alice of Magic World is an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant located in Tokyo, Japan. Besides having a really awkward name, the restaurant boasts tons of neat things modeled after both the original novel and the Disney animated take on Alice. The restaurant is designed to evoke a wonderful feeling of fantasy and surrealism while dining.

The restaurant includes playing card dining tables, giant tea cup booths, a magic forest, and heart-shaped chandeliers. One of the creators of the restaurant said that they “wanted to give guests excitement and surprise, like an unreal world with various wonderlands. But we didn’t want it to be gimmicky.” Well gimmicky or not, the place does look pretty impressive. Alice in Wonderland fans surely won’t be disappointed.

The restaurant offers a wide variety of meals including Cheshire Cat Tail Pizza and Burgundy-style Braised Beef Cheek in Queen of Hearts Red Wine Sauce. Mmm, beef cheek. I’ve never really been into Alice stuff, but the inside of this restaurant looks really cool.

Biohazard Cafe and Grill

RE-cafeVideo game publisher Capcom installed this limited time only Resident Evil restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo last July. The eatery is known as Biohazard Cafe and Grill and features Resident Evil-themed food, props, and an unlimited supply of dancing girls in booty shorts.

pew-pewPew pew pew.

The centerpiece of the Biohazard Cafe and Grill is definitely the life-size Tyrant statue pictured above. Using 3D projection mapping technology, the Tyrant statue comes to life and the scantily clad staff then shoots Tyrant down to simulate a real life Resident Evil experience. And since this restaurant is limited time only, it should be closing its doors come July 2013. So if you’re hoping to experience this one, you’d better make it sooner rather than later.

So What’s the Appeal?

appealng-zombiesSome of these restaurants may seem pretty gimmicky, but they consistently do very well. Most of the theme restaurants I’m used to seeing in America are like, attached to an amusement park or theme park, or attached to something else in some way. Many of these theme restaurants in Japan are just standing on their own and are doing just fine, consistently drawing large crowds.

I imagine the main draw of these places is just what you’d expect – an escape from the humdrum reality of everyday life. Sure, if you’re a tourist, these are great places to visit, but tourists aren’t the only people coming to these places. I’m sure Japanese people like to mix it up every once in a while and dine at one of these wacky locations. I know I would.

Anyway, speaking of tourists – Tofugu is heading back to Japan soon, and they just might be visiting some of these restaurants. Since they might not be able to hit all of them, it’s up to you guys to let us know which ones you’d most like to see covered.

Would you prefer the creepy atmosphere of Alcatraz E.R. and the Cannibalistic Sushi? Or perhaps you’d rather see the atmosphere and whimsy of Alice? Or maybe you just wanna see girls dance around in hot pants. Either way, let us know!


So tell me, which one of these themed restaurants would you like to visit most? Ever been to any of them or know any others that deserve some recognition? Let us know in the comments!

Header image by Layla Lane

  • Tora.Silver

    It seems like it would be difficult to get refills in the ninja restaurant, considering you’d never see any staff.

  • Mescale

    The drinks are poisoned so you never need a refill.

  • Zain

    Alice of magicworld and the ninja restaurants are extremely awesome,i want to visit them someday ^v^,as i hope
    thank john for the infos

  • Michael

    Biohazard or Alice. You already done the ninja one and the other 2 are just too much.

  • DAVIDPD

    Rather just to go Jiro’s place. Haha. In my dreams… T_T

  • Life is good!

    If you like Kyoto and Ninja’s I would recommend this: http://www.ninja-kyoto.co.jp/ They have two restourants of wich one is a tabehoudai~~! And the other a Labyrinth restourant.

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    I had the cannibal meal once. Unfortunately, I only later found out it was actually the Alice in Wonderland restaurant. What I’m trying to say is, they don’t let me back in Japan no more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.mulyakusuma Stephen Mulya Kusuma

    the nyotaimori one is a hoax right? at least the one with the doll.

  • http://www.facebook.com/odhrn Canis Lupus

    Alcatraz!!
    Definitely

  • http://www.adaphobic.com/ Ada Lajara

    Interesting! This post might have been very helpful if you had included their addresses or their location. I would love to visit them some time when I get back to Japan too. :-)

  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    There are some pretty crazy cafés out there indeed. Unfortunately most of them are in Tokyo.

  • John

    I couldn’t find much information or pictures concerning it, but I also couldn’t find anything that outright said it wasn’t real either.

  • John
  • BakaInaka

    The part of Japan I live in has this really cool bento themed restaurant!!! They only serve bento!! It’s crazy!!

  • Jessica Nguyen

    I think there may be four Alice in Wonderland restaurants in Japan! 3 in Tokyo and 1 in Osaka. IF a bunch of dudes are comfortable dining at Alice of Magic World, I want to know if it’s worth visiting!

  • John

    Yeah, the inside looks really awesome. I want to go to there.

  • Anew

    Actually been to a very cute cafe that remindet me of Alice. ‘Though it wasn’t their main goal to make a themed cafe I think ^^ But it’s really nice to eat in a lovely environment, so I’d go the the Alice of Magic World :) I’d probably feel too uneasy in the other ones to swallow… But they look quite interesting as well, definetely good for TofuguTV! Especially the Alcatraz… so creepy!

  • Admiral Awesome

    I’d like to get a confirmation on how long the biohazard cafe and grill is open. I love everything Resident Evil and I’m going to Japan on a study abroad trip in late January. I’d feel really crummy to know I arrived mere weeks after it closed it’s doors!

  • laterperhaps

    What’s up with ninja anyway? just people wearing black shirt and sneaking around, in fact if they really good about sneaking around, they will come to my room and put my head to the keyboasaadfeooqweiojfdfadvvdascefdj

  • Kasma88

    My vote’s with the alcatraz restaurant, although I have a somewhat morbid curiosity in hearing more about the human sushi restaurant from you guys…

  • Nicholine

    There are a bunch of Alice cafes. I have only been to the one in Ikebukuro. There’s also a Vampire Cafe in Ginza which is okay. I preferred Alice. There are also Lock Up (similar to Alcatraz), Arabian Rock as well as a similar Coco Blanca (I believe the name is). There are so many to name, but those are the only ones I can think of now. Out of the ones listed here, I have been to Ninja cafe. It was very cool. I think one thing to mention though is the price of these places considering there are like izakayas.

  • http://twitter.com/guwini Gwen O.

    Please go to Alcatraz. I would like to actually see you bang on the cell bars to order or something. I think it’d be hilarious.

  • http://www.streetsmartlanguagelearning.com/ Street-Smart Language Learning

    You’re missing the Robot Restaurant, although it’s less of a restaurant and more of a show with a bento.

    http://www.shinjuku-robot.com/pc/enter/

  • Bec

    I went to The Alice restaurant in Disneyland and it was very cute indeed!! Even had an unbirthday cake for dessert…

  • http://twitter.com/Kerensa Kerensa

    I went to the Alcatraz E.R. restaurant in Shibuya. It was… interesting. I actually took some video and posted it to my YouTube. It can be pretty fun. I wasn’t really ever scared, though. I did, however, take advantage of my jumpy friends. :)

  • Lieke

    I really want to try visiting a few of those. It seems they can mainly be found in Tokyo, but do you know about any themed restaurants in other regions of Japan?

    I visited a cat cafe once, but unfortunately the cats were rather grumpy (as cats can be) and preferred to continue their nap instead of playing with us. The maid cafe I visited in Akihabara was an interesting experience as well, although not really my taste.

  • Takia Williamson

    Is anyone curious about why we don’t have any cleverly themed, or creative restaurants in the U.S? I think the Japanese are such trendsetters and are so creative! !

  • mahadragon

    I wish we did have these in the US but Japan is so different it’s hard to make comparison. They don’t steal in Japan so they have vending machines everywhere. You’d never see that in the US cause the machines would be crushed within days. They have pachinko and video game parlors everywhere. They have in the US too, but not nearly to the degree they have it in Japan. It’s almost like a giant kiddy land.