Quirky Themed Cafes to Visit in Japan

By Amanda Little

While exploring Japan’s capital city, it's easy to get lost in the neon lights, scrumptious food, high-energy karaoke bars, and packed crowds. If you’re looking for a unique experience, you’ll find it here, because nowhere does niche like Japan. Forget sushi on conveyor belts and vending machines selling everything imaginable - try out one of these cafes instead!

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Robot Restaurant

Take the flashing lights and tech sounds to the next level as you dine to a performance from the 24th century. As you sit and enjoy your food, robot dancers, wild monsters, and trippy animals dance along the stage, with humans wielding lasers weaving among them. Frenzied music, neon lights, and pop culture icons make this experience like no other. You’ll leave the cafe without really knowing what happened, just that there was a massive amount of color, high-energy music, and good food. This quirky and fun cafe highlights the heart of Japan’s eccentric culture. Domo arigato! B2F Shinjuku Robot Bldg, 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku

Soineya: Cuddle Cafe

Soineya translates to “sleep together shop,” but it isn’t quite what it sounds like. Anyone can visit Soineya to cuddle, nap, and talk with the girls that work there. A little over 4,200 yen, roughly $40, will earn you 20 minutes of resting time with a girl at the cuddle cafe, and there are extras you can pay for as well. Laying your head on her knees for three minutes, a five second hug, choosing your girl, and choosing what she wears can all be arranged, for a price. But that’s it. Everything at the Cuddle Cafe is completely platonic. This kind of cafe is aimed at single men, and is thought to be a bandaid for the lonely and contact-deprived. It’s certainly a different kind of cafe, and it’s even doing so well, Soineya is looking to expand to a bigger space, with more rooms, and more employees! KN Building 3F, 2-11 Sakumacho, Chiyoda-ku Akihabara

Photo by Instagram user @takeshi_murakami11

Vampire Cafe

Seek out the vampire’s lair hiding on the top floor of a building in the Finza shopping district for a frightfully good time. With waiters dressed as Victorian vampires, red brocade curtains, candles, and a real coffin resting in the center of the space, the Vampire Café sets the mood for a “vonderful” evening. Enjoy Izakaya cuisine, blood-themed cocktails, and bloody mirrors as serving trays. Enjoy a bite of Japanese food, just try not to get bitten yourself! Lape Bldg. 7F, 6-7-6, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061

Maid Cafe

Sit back and relax as the master of the house at a maid cafe. Waitresses dressed in maid outfits wait on you and get a little into roleplay, and even have different outfits to provide a unique experience. Since the first maid cafe opened in 2001, this cute cafe idea has taken off and become a very popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Most waitresses dress as maids, but there are also “maid” cafes where they dress as schoolgirls, swimmers, and sometimes little sisters. You can also get a photo of yourself and your maid server to take home with you as a souvenir! Gee Store 6F, Soto-Kanda 3-15-5, Chiyoda-ku

Butler Cafe

Now available to compliment maid cafes are butler cafes! Instead of pretty girls in cute maid costumes, attractive guys in Victorian-styled butler suits wait on you hand and foot! Enjoy feeling like a princess as a handsome and dapper waiter seats you, serves you, and attends to your every whim. Be sure to get a photo with your butler as well. 3-12-12 Higashi Ikebukuro Seiwa Bldg B1F, Toshima 170-0013, Tokyo

Animal Cafes

Cat cafes have gained popularity in a few major cities, with about 39 of them available to visit in Tokyo, but Japan takes it to a new level with a surprising variety of cute and unique animals you can play with, feed, pet, and interact with. While rabbit cafes, dog cafes, and bird cafes are the standard, some cafes offer some truly unique animals to cuddle. Visit Harry, the Hedgehog Cafe where you can hold hedgehogs and adore their itty bitty snouts and soft tummies. Or you could stop by the Owl Cafe for your morning coffee and enjoy the tranquility of gently petting an incredibly soft owl, though you’ll have to be careful not to move too quickly or pet them too hard. Stopping in at Yokohama Subtropical Teahouse will give you a place to ditch the fur and trade it for scales: think lizards, tortoises, and snakes. While you can’t eat and play with these critters at the same time, you can still reserve a cuddle session with these cool reptiles. 1-16-2 Kabukicho Fuji Bldg.6F, Shinjuku 160-0021, Tokyo

Alice in Wonderland Cafes

Nothing transports fantasy fanatics to another world quite as easily as Alice in Wonderland, so it's no surprise that Alice in Wonderland-styled cafes are so popular. With five locations throughout Tokyo, dining in another world becomes easy. Antique lounges, odd mirrors, oversized books, comfy chairs, and of course, a dizzying array of teacups, grace the cafes. Some feature Cheshire Cat decour, while others have long and vibrantly colored tables. The food is, of course, just as whimsical as the story itself, and the waitresses all look like different versions of Alice. 8-8-5 Ginza 5F Taiyo Bldg., Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo

Ninja Akasaka: Ninja Cafe

Quiet your breath and step lightly as you make your way through a seemingly empty hallway, until suddenly you’re surrounded by deadly ninjas! With ninja guides, katanas, throwing stars, and waiters that sneak up on you, this cafe is a ninja fan’s playground. While its a little cliche, this fun cafe doesn’t let its decor overshadow the food. Here you can find delicious Japanese, French, Italian, and Chinese dishes. So keep an eye out for your waiter who may appear at any moment, revel in the cheesy tourist vibe, and enjoy the truly wonderful food. 2-14-3, Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Tokyu plaza Akasaka 1F

Kawaii Monster Cafe

Get ready for a cafe so cute it’s revolting. “Kawaii” means cute in Japanese, and the Kawaii Monster Cafe took it to the next level. The bizarre eatery showcases giant bunnies drinking milk like human babies, disco mushrooms, technicolor jellyfish, and macaroon-studded walls. Everything cute has gone a little wrong in this cafe, including the waiters, who have brightly colored hair, clothes, and makeup, and carry swirling colors of candy. The only thing more colorful than the place is the food. Have a seat before you get too dizzy to enjoy your meal! 4-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Zauo Shinjuku: Fishing Restaurant

You’ll have to catch your own food at this cafe. With a massive aquarium in the middle, once you’ve been seated, you drop a line and wait. Of course, there is the option to just buy your meal, but where's the fun in that? Once you’ve caught your meal, the waiters always make it a point to celebrate and the chef will prepare it any way you like, from sashimi to sauteed. Catching your dinner isn’t easy or quick, but it is unique. Shinjuku Washington Hotel 1F, 3-2-9, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Dungeon Cafe

Leave the cheery, brightly lit city behind and slowly make your way down an abandoned alleyway. Seek out the tiny flight of stairs leading down into the earth. Look carefully, you might miss them! Haul open the rusted door to a pitch black hallway. If you hear screams of terror and pain, you’re in the right place. This is a dungeon-themed cafe called The Lockup, a highly popular horror-themed restaurant, where dining becomes frightening. Dining here will result in being put away in a cell, where you get to mix your own drinks with test tubes and beakers. Monsters of all kinds can run by, and some will even rattle your cage! If you’re one of the lucky few, they’ll chase you around your cage! Horror fans are in for the fright of their life, all for the low cost of dinner. The only thing you need to do is ask yourself: do you dare enter the dungeon? 33-1 Udagawacho B2F Shibuya Grand Tokyo Bldg.,Shibuya 150-0042, Tokyo

Photo by Instagram user @flyartcom

Alcatraz ER Medical Restaurant

If the dungeon wasn’t enough for you, then Alcatraz might be just your style. This cafe is one of Japan’s oldest, and easily the scariest, themed restaurant. From eating your food off a sanitary pad to stirring your drinks with sex toys, this cafe takes horror dining to a new extreme. The decor, costumes, and food are all based off the infamous medical prison, so it definitely isn’t an experience for the faint of heart. 2-13-5, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo harvest building 2F

Photo by Instagram user @iampollypot

Yurei Izakaya

You won’t need to die to dine at this ghost-themed bar and restaurant, but your waiters will all tell you they died to work there! This neat cafe is filled with booby traps to give a good scare and costumed workers ready to give you the fright that may just send you to an early grave! Scary movies is a big influence in this restaurant, so fans of horror flicks like Ju-on or The Ring will definitely enjoy their time here! 1/F, 1-8-11 Minami-cho, Kichijoji, Musashino City

Tip: Dressing up when going to these places is fun, but here you’ll be rewarded for it. If at least one person in your party is wearing some sort of costume, you’ll get a free dessert!

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