Tokyo’s Top Ten Weird Watering Holes

If you go out drinking in Tokyo, anything could happen, because Tokyo is a city full of mind-bogglingly bizarre bars and peculiar pubs that make other countries’ boozers look as dull and sterile as hospital waiting rooms by comparison (although, come to think of it, there’s probably a novelty bar actually designed like a hospital waiting room somewhere in Tokyo.) Below, in no particular order, is a round up of my top ten favourite eccentric establishments.

1: KAGAYA

The chief appeal of this utterly mental Shimbashi pub is the amazing host, Mark Kagaya, who surprises his customers by making them play weird games, and serves drinks in surreal international costumes. The menu is a puppet show.
Read more about it here.

Info:
Kagaya, Hanasada BLDG. B1F, 5-12, Shimbashi 2-Chome, Minato-Ku, Tokyo.
Tel: 03-3591-2347
Kagaya Homepage

2: ALCATRAZ + ER

At this truly macabre prison-hospital-themed eaterie in Shibuya, the waitresses wear nurses’ uniforms, the drinks are served in test-tubes, and your drinking is occasionally interrupted by a deranged escaped convict in an ice hockey mask. A classy joint.
Read about it here.

Info:
Tel: (03) 37707100
Alcatraz ER Website

3: DINING BAR SUBMARINE

This sub-aquatic-themed izakaya is submerged beneath the sleazy streets of Kabukicho, Shinjuku. Sit and drink rum in a cabin with portholes, and meet the proprietor, jolly “Captain” Kaji Aishin, who looks like a Japanese Captain Birdseye.
Read more here.

Info:
Dining Bar Submarine, Pocket Building B1, Kabukichuo 1-17-4, Shinjuku-Ku
Tel: (03) 5285-3480.
Dining Bar Submarine

4: ALICE IN WONDERLAND

A trippy destination for a party, this place is based around Lewis Carroll’s delirious story, with all the psychedelic decorations and costumes you might expect, and over a hundred different cocktails to choose from. Prepare for mental meltdown!

Info:
Address: Taiyo Bldg, 5F, 8-8-5 Ginza, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo 104 0061
Tel: (03) 35746980
Alice In Wonderland Website.

5: CHRISTON CAFE

In Japan, Christianity is still a novelty, so they’ve turned it into a theme-restaurant in Shinjuku. This place looks like a church and is full of religious imagery and statues, which makes it an unorthodox venue for knocking back cocktails. Worth a visit, (but you might feel compelled to behave yourself.)

Info:
Address: 8F Oriental Wave Bldg, 5-17-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku.
Tel: (03) 52872426
More details at the Christon Cafe website.

6: ABSOLUT ICEBAR TOKYO

Why not come and freeze your nuts off in a bar full of ice? It costs a lot to get in, but that includes use of gloves and a cape, and your vodka stays cool all night. I wish I’d known about this place in August. In December it’ll be about as appealing as a trip to…er… a prison hospital.

Info:
Address: 4-2-4 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-Ku, Tokyo.
Tel: (03) 54642161
Absolut Icebar website

7: VAMPIRE CAFE

This vampire-themed joint in Ginza is both creepy and strangely kinky at the same time. the waitresses wear French maid outfits and the vermilion red decor is complemented by crucifixes, spiders, and Dracula’s coffin.

Info:
Address: 7F La Paix Building, 6-7-6 Ginza, Chuo-Ku.
Tel: 03-3289-5360
Here’s the Vampire Cafe website.

8: ARABIAN ROCK

Arabian Rock is a novelty restaurant in Shinjuku, designed to transport you to the old Arabia of Sinbad and Aladdin, complete with hookahs, Persian rugs, and the obligatory costumed staff (this time they’re wearing belly dancer costumes and MC Hammer trousers.) There are even cocktails themed around signs of the zodiac, and the “Magic Lamp Abracadabra,” which is six liqueurs you mix yourself in an Aladdin-style lamp.
Read all about it here.

Info:
Arabian Rock
2-3F Square Building, 1-16-3 Kabuki-Cho, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0021.

9: NINJA

What could be more Japanese than a Ninja-themed restaurant? At this cavernous underground Ninja-hideout in Akasaka, the food and booze are classy, and the waiters are dressed-up as Ninjas and perform brain-bending magic tricks. It ain’t cheap, though- you’ll need another drink when you see the check.
Info:
Address: 2-14-3 Akasaka Tokyo Plaza, Chiyoda-Ku.
Tel: (03) 51573936

10: OFFICE

Where better to let off steam after a hard day at the office than a bar that…er… looks exactly like an office? This place in Aoyama comes complete with a photocopier, desks, filing cabinets and a view of the city. Somehow it’s very cool.

Info:
Address: Yamazaki Bldg, 5F, Kita Aoyama 2-7-18, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: (03) 57861052
Office Homepage.

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60 Responses to Tokyo’s Top Ten Weird Watering Holes

  1. clarkebruce says:

    Great post roaf.

    I think The Office bar needs David Brent to be walking around chatting to the punters…

  2. roaf says:

    Yeah, that would be cool. They could get a lookalike to do “the dance.”
    “The Office” is even on television in Japan, in fact. Although I don’t think the Japanese get the concept of disrespecting the boss.

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  5. Alec says:

    Thanks for this list! I’ve been looking for something like this and will now make it my mission to visit every place on the list! (^_^)

  6. roaf says:

    Thanks! You’re in for a wild time.

  7. Alice says:

    Thanks for this list. Maybe you’d like to add these places to the map that I’ve just created about cool places to visit in Tokyo: http://www.mapme.com/map/tokyoneighbourhoods
    You can also add photos and videos as well as other interesting places that you know.

  8. roaf says:

    Looks useful!
    I’ll get on the case once my PC gets repaired!

  9. Josh says:

    The service at Criston Cafe seemed to be quite anti-Gaijin. They didn’t seem to be interested in taking our orders as repeated attempts were ignored. Suspiciously other tables were getting service.

  10. roaf says:

    Not very christian of them, ironically enough.

  11. [...] 29. Go on adventurous bar hops. [...]

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  13. nfg says:

    It’s awful!! Wha a bad service… really a waste of money and time. The waiters were extremely unpolite, it was uncomfortable and they did’nt serve us properly!!

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  15. Dales says:

    hi there! very intresting point! but what is it really all about? stay healthy! healthy

  16. Just one question though. Have you made writing this blog as your profession or do you do this in your spare time?

  17. Awesome website, thanks for the info.

  18. kharnifex says:

    Avoid the submarine bar, it’s downright lame, expensive, and barely a theme bar,

    it’s a small izakaya with some nautical things glued to the walls

    save your money for Kagaya, and Zoetrope Shot bar, a fantastic bar in shinjuku you can read about in nonjatta.

    Ninja akasaka is ok if you want to spend around 200+ dollars for a degustation meal, with some lame card tricks by ninja’s, You are better off going to one of the various Lock-up theme bars for a cheaper and more amusing (prisoners escape around 11pm in the shinjuku one)night.

  19. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!

  20. Another a really good read by the author looking forward to visit more very soon.

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    We ought to all take care of our self slightly more, this post merely emphasises the fact.

  23. wow! I can’t believe there are actual places like that in japan very interesting and I guess fun ..I would like to visit such cafe’s someday…

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    It maybe weird for us but not for Japanese people!

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