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Parts of Japan are traditional and ancient, while some are downright eccentric. Tokyo houses a dense concentration of weird, strange cafes and eateries that will leave guests pleasantly confused. From painstakingly detailed dishes of famed Japanese characters to fishing for your own dinner, this is going to be a weird read. Kyoto and Osaka also have their fair share of off-the-wall restaurants, too. While you’d have no problem locating some odd place to grab a bite in Japan, these may be the most outlandish.
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So for some reason or another, maid cafes are a thing in Japan, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Staff members are dressed in frilly outfits for novelty’s sake, and the food is typically pretty darn good. Cure Maid Cafe was one of the places that really kicked off the craze.
Drinks topped with floating eyeballs, chocolate cake skulls, strawberry monsters— this is Dark Gothic Bar Camille in Osaka. Neon lights electrify the already intriguing space with macabre details here and there. It’s all in good fun, and the owner truly infused herself into making her horrifically incredible establishment a real work of art. Every cocktail and dish is so intricate, with splatters of edible blood and other over the top garnishes.
The Lock Up is a prison-themed restaurant that has multiple locations, including Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo. When your group arrives, a policeman will escort you to a table, while “arresting” anyone in the party who claims to be “guilty of a crime”. Needless to say, it’s an interesting entrance. While enjoying snacks like popcorn, fried cheese and canned fish (yeah), guests can order reasonably priced cocktails served in beakers or with ice vampire teeth.
Rokunen Yonkumi will take you back to childhood within its school-themed digs. Scarily similar to an elementary classroom, customers will be seated at wooden desks facing a big chalkboard. The staff is dressed up like a bunch of schoolteachers, but don’t worry, you’re only here to have a good time. Ironically, this is technically an Izakaya, which means it’s all about the booze, like popping rocks cocktails, and of course tasty snacks from edamame to candy.
Robot Restaurant in Tokyo is simply epic, with a sequenced 90-minute performance of vixen and robot battles, paired with captivating dances. It’s nuts, in a good way. You’ve likely assumed correctly that this is more of a nightlife kind of place. Customers can snack on popcorn, drink or enjoy a bento box of marinated beef.
You may have already heard of the lazy egg cartoon character, Gudetama. He’s cute, he’s chubby, and he just wants to snuggle under his bacon blanket. Gudetama Cafe in Osaka celebrates the beloved personality with plush figures for lonely diners, wall decor, yellow everything, and of course, intricately detailed dishes. Dive into a curry with a Gudetama rice sculpture, complete with a bacon blanket, or indulge in something sweet, like puddings and cakes, which also are adorned with his exasperated face.
Alice in Wonderland themed restaurants are another not too uncommon staple in Japan. Labeled as a fantasy restaurant, Alice in a Labyrinth is just one of the story’s selections. Sit in a giant teacup while huge playing cards arch overhead, or relax in a booth with mushroom designs on the wall—everything is still quite polished and upscale. Dishes are centered around impeccable French cuisine, and the pudding with a Cheshire Cat hanging over the side is too cute to miss!
Cat cafes are just a normal thing in Japan, especially Kyoto. You can come to one of these adorable establishments to snuggle kitties while you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Neko Cafe Time in Kyoto is one of the higher-rated choices, and all the sweet animals have been rescued. There’s something calming about petting these sweet babies while enjoying an afternoon pick me up.
If you’re Indiana Jones, this slithery Cafe isn’t for you. America-mura Snake Cafe in Osaka allows guests to hold a variety of striking, no pun intended, snakes. The fun doesn’t end there, as some dishes feature their own creepy crawly theme. Scorpions anyone?
Japan is all about fresh fish, and customers get the full seafood experience at Zauo in Shinjuku—literally. A boat-shaped seating area sits next to an indoor channel full of fish, which you get to catch yourself, pole and bait included. Some tables are situated with an underwater view. But it’s not all gimmick—your catch, which can range around 50 US dollars, is grilled or fried to tender perfection.
Kawaii Monster Cafe literally takes the cake of all outlandish eateries in Japan, with its electric circus-like theme, it will blow your mind. A sweets-go-round, mushroom disco, unicorns, pasta monsters, French fries with rainbow-colored dipping sauces—the madness all is imaginatively supposed to take place in a monster’s stomach. This figurative monster has eaten all the weird stuff in Tokyo, just so you can come inside and enjoy something completely insane.