One of my big travel regrets is that despite living within a stone’s throw of Japan for five years of my life, my sole visit was a hit and run visa run to Fukuoka back in 2009.
Posts like this, from my friend Rob over at Bonafide Traveler remind me why I’ve been in love with the idea of visiting Japan ever since I saw Lost in Translation back in 2004.
Eight Cafes You Can Only Visit in Tokyo
From creating emojis and Hello Kitty to innovations in technology, Japan has always been known for being creative. And no one can say these cafes featured in and around Tokyo are anything but just that. Vampires, fish, and even prison-themed cafes are a sign that people seem to be demanding more out of the dining experience in Tokyo than just delicious food.
So if a truly unique Japanese experience is what you crave, visit any one of these eight wacky places to get your quirky dining fix while in or around Tokyo.
1. The LockUp
Prison bars, handcuffs, and flashing lights don’t normally produce the most welcoming environment, but those interested in getting a thrill are flocking to Tokyo’s prison-themed cafe, The Lockup. Upon entering the cafe, customers weave through danger signs and caution tape and are seated behind bars to eat their meal.
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, this place is for you. The cafe has franchises in Tokyo, Shibuya, and Shinjuku.
2. Little TGV
This cafe is more appropriate than The Lockup for the faint of heart. Patrons enter the cafe and immediately enter a new world: a train car. But don’t worry; this cafe isn’t moving back and forth, it’s stationary.
Little TGV features carriage seats, train conductor uniforms for the waiters and waitresses, and model train cars in almost every corner. The food even comes served up in little choo choo cars. It’s the perfect dining experience for all of you train enthusiasts.
Editor’s Note: Oh God, my nephew would adore this cafe.
Instead of just picking out the lobster you might eat, why not just catch the fish yourself? In this little fish restaurant, customers are seated in a fake boat and can cast and reel in the fish they’ll eat for dinner. Talk about a fresh meal! Once you catch the fish, the Zauo cooks prepare the fish as desired and serve it to you on a fish-themed platter.
4. Vampire Cafe
Vampire Diaries and Twilight better watch out because there’s a new vampire craze escaping the coffin. Vampire Cafe oozes the color red and breathes a dark ambiance into every corner with red velvet curtains and coffins for decor.
Even the food tends to come in red tint, and each item is paired with a jelly that appears like real blood. This place of Dracula and Edward Cullen-inspired motifs also serves coffin cake so beware.
5. Alice in Wonderland Cafe
Owners of this restaurant seek to recreate the quirky and strange fairy tale scenes from Alice in Wonderland. Playing card chandeliers hang above the tables at the Alice in Wonderland Café while diamond, heart, spade and clover-shaped trees dot the walkways to create a maze-like feeling.
The food also comes served in the shapes of the kooky and beloved Alice in Wonderland characters like the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter at this confusing and mystical café.
6. Planetarium Bar
For a more relaxing, yet still out-of-this-world experience, visit the Planetarium Bar to ponder life’s meaning and discover what’s in the stars for you. It features a look into five million stars in the sky replicated from the view in Tokyo. The dome even opens up to give customers a view of the actual starry Tokyo night.
To get really relaxed in the space-age restaurant, Planetarium Bar also offers Western and Eastern-style facial massages. Dinner and a massage under the stars — is there anything more you could ask for on your Tokyo vacation?
7. Moomin Café
You may have heard of the cat café trend or even the dog café that seems to be all the rage in Japan. But have you heard about the stuffed animal café? Yes, for those who dine alone but don’t want to feel like they’re sitting alone, you can sit with a stuffed animal at Moomin Café.
The solo seats featured in this café seat a giant stuffed version of the famous Finnish hippopotamus picture book character family Moomin. Real Moomin fans can also order rice that comes served in the shape of the adorable hippo.
8. Sky View Lounge
Cap off your Tokyo evening with a cocktail and scrumptious small plates at the Tokyo Bay Night Bar, more commonly known as the Sky View Lounge. This breathtaking bar sits atop the InterContinental Tokyo Bay Hotel, one of the several of IHG hotels in the Tokyo city limits, giving it sweeping views of Tokyo Bar and Tokyo Tower. The bustling city lights twinkle below you as you watch ships glide effortlessly over the harbor. You won’t find a view like this anywhere else but in Tokyo, Japan.
For a Tokyo vacation experience unlike any you’ve ever had, dine out at any one of these eccentric cafes. We promise you’ll leave with some of the best and most irreplaceable memories and stories to share with your friends and family back home.
Have you got a favourite kooky cafe in Tokyo?
Is there a cafe in your hometown or current home that stands out?