No force in existence can put a halt to Japan’s love affair with the bizarre. From ridiculous game shows to wild beauty trends, Japan never fails to disappoint those on the hunt for the unusual. One of Japan’s most popular oddities is its famed themed cafés. Allow yourself to be charmed by Japan and its classically weird culture with these 10 themed cafés.
1. Cat Cafés
Lounge on a cozy sofa, drink in hand, and close your eyes to the sweet chorus of cats purring. No, this is not the memoir of a crazy cat lady—it’s something just as riveting. Open your sheltered eyes to the happiness and magic that is a cat café. Japan holds the record for the most cat cafés in the world, with as many as 39 in Tokyo. These enchanting places allow people to eat, drink and lounge in the company of cats. From pure breeds to ex-strays, cat cafés house a variety of felines eager to play and cuddle with customers. The real beauty of these cafés lies with their support and promotion of cat adoptions. Most of these lovable balls of fur are open for adoption and entrance fees are used for the care of the cats. So, get your fix of fluffy love and help a whiskered friend at one of Japan’s famed cat cafés!
Where to find a cat café for yourself:
Neko Jalala: 3-5-5 Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo Prefecture
Nyafe Melange: 1-7-13 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku
Hapi Neko: 2-28-3 Dōgenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Temari no Ouchi: 2-13-14 Kichijōji Honchō, Musashino-shi
Cat Café Kyariko Kichijoji: 1-5-7 Kichijōji Minamichō, Musashino-shi
2. Robot Restaurant
Visit Robot Restaurant and you’ll believe in placebo acid trips. You’ll have no idea what happened or what you just witnessed, but trust me—you’ll have one hell of a time. Multi-colored laser lights, flashy half-naked dancers, giant gaudy robots doing who knows what, this restaurant provides a trippy energetic experience you won’t find anywhere else. The restaurant’s non-stop energy and strange routines will fulfill anyone’s lust for a taste Japan’s eccentric pop- culture. You’ll get more of a taste though, we’re talking an hour’s worth of bizarrely fantastic entertainment. Your face will hurt from smiling!
Where to find the robot restaurant:
B2F Shinjuku Robot Bldg, 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku
For more information and bookings, click here.
3. Soineya: Cuddle Cafés
For all of those cursed with the self-inflicted “forever alone” status, I challenge you to abandon your waifu pillows and visit Soineya. This cuddle café gives customers the opportunity to sleep with cute girls. Calm down, Klook does not promote brothels. By sleeping with a girl, I mean just that—unadulterated sleep. After a long day of work or school, customers can pay to rest in a girl’s arms or lap, or both…the choice is theirs! The cost of cuddling with strangers does come with a hefty price. The options range from a 20-minute nap (US$38) to a 10-hour full night package (US$640). Add-ons like choosing the girl you sleep with, having the girl change her clothes, or spooning costs extra. Despite the bizarre nature of Soineya, cuddling with strangers may be the perfect fix for any lonely soul.
Where to find a cuddle café for yourself:
Tokyo’s electronics & nerd culture center of Akihabara
4. Owl Cafés
If cat cafés don’t suit your liking, then perhaps a café filled with owls will. It’s no surprise that Japan coined this concept too! Enjoy a cup of coffee and experience the healing therapy of surrounding yourself with owls. Customers can pet, hold and take pictures with the owls. Most of the owls were raised around humans, so they’re quite friendly and easy-going. Hanging out with birds of prey does require certain precautions: no flash photography, sudden movements and of course, don’t squeeze the birds. The owls at the cafés come with different names, perches and personalities. Visit an owl café and experience the heart-stealing, stress-healing magic from these majestic wide-eyed creatures.
Where to find an owl cafe for yourself:
Akiba Fukurou Owl Café: 67 Kanda Neribeichō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to, 101-0022
Ikefukuro Café: 4-24-8, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Café Baron: 3 Chome-10-5 Koenjikita, Suginami, Tokyo
Tori no Iru Café: Seven Star Mansion, 1st floor, 2-6-7 Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo
5. The Lockup: Dungeon Café
Enter through a sketchy alleyway entrance and follow a small flight of stairs leading to a basement. Open the giant rusted door and follow the almost pitch dark path resonating with torturous screams and drilling noises. Finally come across a woman in scanty cop attire, who utters one phrase, “Who’s been a bad boy/girl and needs to be punished?” The sexy cop then takes you to your cell where you will serve a sentence of 2-hours behind bars. This is a common occurrence at The Lockup, one of Tokyo’s popular horror themed restaurants. Mix your own drinks with test tubes and beakers; this dungeon stays true to its theme, even the restrooms are terrifying. Stay long enough and you’ll witness monsters of all kinds run past your cell and pop their heads in to give you a fright. If you’re lucky, they may even chase you around in your cell. The Lockup provides a horrifying means of entertainment for anyone daring enough to enter the dungeon!
Where to find the dungeon café:
33-1 Udagawacho | B2F Shibuya Grand Tokyo Bldg.,Shibuya 150-0042, Tokyo
6. Maid Cafés
You know this one. A café with girls dressed up in frilly “kawaii” maid outfits addressing you as master or mistress, and serving you food…unmistakably a maid café, and definitely something that started in Japan. The first maid café opened in Tokyo in 2001 and the trend has expanded ever sense. Now maid cafés have evolved into their own little sub-categories. Some of the cafés are school, swim or even little sister themed. If you weren’t already aware, Japan’s pop culture digs adding in subtle hints of incest into manga and anime. These ‘little sister’ maid cafés embrace this genre and call customers ‘big brother.’ These sister maids pester customers like little sisters would, and may even cry when you leave. Japan doesn’t disappoint when it comes to roleplaying; café maids are highly skilled in the art of kawaii. Visit one of these maid cafés and feed your egging curiosity. Hey, you wouldn’t have read this much if you weren’t a tad bit interested.
Where to find a maid café for yourself:
Cure Maid Café (the first maid café): Gee Store 6F, Soto-Kanda 3-15-5, Chiyoda-ku
Schatz Kiste: Hasegawa Building 1F, Soto-Kanda 6-5-11, Chiyoda-ku
@home Café: Moe Maid Heaven: Mitsuwa Building 4F-7F, Soto-Kanda 1-11-4, Chiyoda-ku
Cos-cha (back to school): Soto-Kanda 3-7-12-2F, Chiyoda-ku
Nagomi (little sister café): Zenitani 2F, Soto-Kanda 1-8-4, Chiyoda-ku
Popopure (English friendly): 2F, Soto-Kanda 1-8-10, Chiyoda-ku
7. Zauo Shinjuku: Fishing Restaurant
This is about as fresh as it gets! Zauo provides the thrilling experience of catching your choice of fish and then having a chef prepare it to your liking. If you’re hungry make sure to catch an extra large fish. You have the option of not catching your meal, but where’s the fun in that?! Fishing for dinner can prove to be a challenge, especially when you’re extra hungry. The Zauo staff is an energetic bunch and will celebrate with anyone who finally scores their meal!
Where to find this fishing restaurant:
Shinjuku Washington Hotel 1F, 3-2-9, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
8. Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse: Reptiles Café
You’ve heard of cat and dog cafés, but where’s the love for our cold blooded friends? At the Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse customers can delight in the presence of dozens of different reptile species along with the comfort of a warm cup of Chinese tea. The café keeps most of its reptiles in tanks or cages, but several giant tortoises romp around the area that love human interaction. To those raised in the city, the café provides a wonderfully unusual experience. The reptiles possess their own celebrity status among the locals because of the uniqueness they offer. Surprisingly, most of the café’s customers are female. Next time you’re around Yokohama, stop by this reptile café and enjoy your tea as dozens of reptile eyes watch.
Where to find the Reptiles Café:
Naka-ku, Yokohama, Chojamachi 8-133, 2F.
9. Ninja Akasaka: Ninja Café
If you thrive in cheesiness, then Ninja Akasaka is right up your ally. As soon as you enter the café, a ninja appears and guides you through mysterious corridors to your private booth. Ninja stars, katana, ninja themed dishes and dim lighting all create the perfect concoction for a night to make you feel like the most cliché tourist that ever lived. It’s worth it though; the effort and time put into the restaurant’s theme doesn’t overshadow the quality of the food. I highly recommend Ninja Akasaka to anyone craving wonderfully cheesy entertainment and decent food.
Where to find the ninja cafe:
2-14-3, Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Tokyu plaza Akasaka 1F
10. Alice in Wonderland Cafés
Escape to Wonderland and experience one of Japan’s five Alice in Wonderland themed cafés. These aren’t just cliché touristy places to eat, the Wonderland cafés exhibit lavish seating and delicate architectural designs that stay true to the theme. Adorable waitresses wear Lolita Alice inspired dresses and the food maintains the quirks of Wonderland that people love. The long tables, vibrant themed patterns and creative food options transport customers to their own personal Wonderland tea party.
Where to find a Wonderland Café for yourself:
Alice in a Labyrinth: Sun building 5F, 8-8-5, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Alice in a Fantasy Book: Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 1-6-2 T-wing building B2F
Alice in Magical Land: 3rd Floor 160-0023 Tokyo Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 1-5-1 Shinjuku Nishiguchi Hulk Underground
Alice in an Old Castle: Building 3 B1 171-0022 Tokyo Toshima-ku, 2-16-8 Minami-Ikebukuro Fujikyu building east
Alice in a Dancing Land: 150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Udagawa-cho No. 16 No.9 zero gate Underground 1F