23 Weird Things to Do in Tokyo
Get off the tourist trail and embrace your strange side with our guide of the 23 weirdest things to do in Tokyo.
Tokyo, one of the most populated metropolises on the planet, is home to a whole host of crazy stuff that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Peculiar cafes, strange restaurants, sumo stables, eccentric museums and cool activities abound in Japan’s capital and we’re here to show you the best of them. Any trip to Tokyo is an adventure, but even more so if you follow our guide.
1. Robot Restaurant
If you’ve never heard of the Robot Restaurant, then it should be one of your top destinations when visiting Tokyo. Located in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho red light district, the Robot Restaurant is a surreal journey into the weird side of Japanese culture. Lasting for two hours, the show involves lots of flashing lights, dancing, singing and, importantly, robots. After a pre-show drumming performance, be led into the main hall for robot battles and spectacles of all kinds. Whilst called a restaurant, the food and drink options are limited, but if you get hung up on that you’re kind of missing the point.
If you want to know more about Robot Restaurant, have all your questions answered, here.
Hours: 5:55 pm – 9:45 pm (Mondays – Fridays) 4:00 pm – 9:45 pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
Price: 8,000 yen – entrance fee/person, 1,000 yen – meal/person
2. Sumo Stable
Sumo wrestling is a big thing in Japan, but competitions are rare and it can be difficult to get tickets. Instead, watch the rikishi (Sumo wrestlers) doing their morning practice in their sumo stable, also known as a keiko. As tradition dictates, the wrestlers exert themselves as much as they can during every training session, with predictably intense results. However, there are a few rules to follow should you want to be a fly on the wall. No chatting, no flash photography, no food or drinks inside the stable and for obvious reasons, entering the stable is strictly prohibited. Your chance to get up close and personal with some uniquely Japanese athletes.
Hours: 7:30 am – 10:00 am (Everyday except in March, July, November and a week after the grand tournaments)
This Shinjuku concept restaurant allows diners to personally catch their dinner, have it cooked and eat it fresh. You can even request to have your fish cooked in whatever way you’d like – the customer rules here. If that wasn’t enough, the whole restaurant is decked out like a boat, for the ultimate inner-city fishing experience.
Tokyo is awash with theme restaurants, check out the best of them, here.
Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm (Monday – Friday), 11:30 am – 11:00 (weekends and holidays)
Price: 2,500 – 4,500 yen (depends on the fish that you’ll be able to catch)
4. Maid Cafe
Maid Cafes are another uniquely Japanese experience that shouldn’t be missed. Instead of being served by a waitress, women dressed as housemaids wait on you hand and foot, referring to you as their ‘master’. Perhaps a little creepy, but certainly more entertaining that a regular cafe. There are other bonuses, too. Take the opporunity to play some games with the maids and have your picure taken with them as a little souvenir. Although there are dozens of maid cafes all over Tokyo, the best are found in the concept’s birthplace, Akihabara. Find the details of one of the most popular, @HomeCafe, below:
Hours: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm (weekdays), 10:30 am – 10:00 pm (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays)
Price: 1,500 – 3,000 yen
5. Alcatraz E.R.
In Tokyo, strange restaurants pop up faster than we can count them. A recent addition is Shibuya’s Alcatraz E.R, a medical prison-themed diner which takes the craze to a new level. The place itself looks like a jail, with nurses covered in blood there to serve you with an array of crazy, often unappetising, food. Diners are locked up in a cell, where they can enjoy dishes like ‘dead chicken’, ‘sausage penis’ and ‘intestines’. It is an experience that you will never forget.
Hours: check out their website for reservations
Price: 3,000 – 5,000 yen
6. Takeshita Street
Takeshita Street is renowned for being the center of kawaii culture. Spotting a lolita or two is not uncommon and no fashion style is considered too outlandish. Takeshita street is brimming with independent stores, offering a wide range of fashion styles and accessories. Even if the fashion is not to your taste, it’s worth giving Takeshita Street a visit simply to experience one of the most popular youth subculture destinations in Japan.
For the full lowdown on Takeshita Street, check out our dedicated article, right here.
Address: 1 Chome Jingunmae
You’ve certainly heard of this guy. Asimo, a robot who looks like a kid in a spacesuit, is the most famous android in Japan. Watch him play football and a host of other activities in the Tokyo Museum in Odaiba. Odaiba, a man-made island off Tokyo Bay, is brimming with other weird things to check out too. Why not pay a visit to the gigantic Gundam statue which keeps an eye on the island or take a soak at the 24-hour Edo era themed onsen. For more tips, head here.
Address: 2-3-6 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Closed Tuesdays)
Price: 620 yen (adults), 210 yen (18 years and under)
8. Parasite Museum
One of the strangest museums in Tokyo that we advise you to visit before having your lunch. The Meguro Parasitological Museum is a private research facility that was established in 1953 with the private funds of Dr. Satoru Kamegai. It exhibits more than 300 parasite specimens and related materials. Originally for nothing more than education, as time has passed, weird hungry tourists have gotten wind, transforming the museum into one of Tokyo’s most bizarre tourist hotspots.
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (closed every Mondays and Tuesday)
9. Ninja Restaurant
Ever wanted to become a ninja? We can’t quite promise that, but you can now dine with ninjas in this Akasaka restaurant. The food and drink is pretty good but the main event is watching the ninjas fly around the restaurant, which is appropriately decked out like the Tokyo of old. You’ve never eaten dinner like this before.
Hours: 5:00 pm – 1:00 am (weekdays), 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm (weekends)
Price: 3,500 – 8,800 yen
10. Capsule Hotels
If you are looking for a cheap yet comfortable place to stay in Tokyo, capsule hotels are abundant and can be found almost anywhere around the city. If you’re not familiar with the concept, a capsule hotel provides a small, person-shaped capsule to sleep in, decked out with more amenities than you’d probably expect. Weird and practical – you can’t go wrong with a capsule hotel. Find the details of one of the best in Tokyo, the Capsule Inn Kajicho, below.
For more Tokyo capsule hotel recommendations, check out our article, here.
Address: 1-4-5 Kajicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Price: 3,500 yen
11. Vending Machines
Nowhere has embraced the vending machine concept quite like Japan. You can find vending machines all over the country, city or countryside, packed with the expected and unexpected items. From dirty underwear, work shirts and electronics, to hamburgers and natto, there’s not much you can’t find in a vending machine in Japan.
Natto, a traditional Japanese snack made from slimy fermented beans and giving off a very strong odor, is one of the weirdest and most uniquely Japanese dishes you’ll find in the city. Even some of the locals hate it. It is usually eaten with rice and mustard for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can always find natto in convenience stores or supermarkets, so if you’re up for the challenge, you know where to head.
Price: 100 yen (3-4 packs)
13. Samurai Experience
If you were one of those kids who dreamed of being a sword-wielding samurai, here’s your chance to make it come true. Yumenoya in Asakusa offers courses on traditional samurai skills, including all the outfits and cool weapons. Courses vary in length from one to three hours and include a photo shoot to let everyone know you were a samurai for a day.
Address: Asakusa 1-36-8, Taito-ku
Hours: By reservation
Price: 6,000 yen (children), 7,000 (adults)
14. Cat Cafe
Are you a cat person? Then Tokyo has you covered. Order up a cappuccino and chill with our feline friends who are always hungry for affection. Nyafe Melange is one of the best cat cafes in Tokyo. Overlooking the bustling streets of Shibuya, the cafe has over 14 cats to dote over and the drinks are better than in most regular cafes. Find the details below.
For more cat cafes, as well an array of other animal-themed cafes, check here.
Address: 1-7-13 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm (Sundays – Thursdays) 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm (Fri – Sat)
Price: 600 – 3,000 yen
15. Cosplay Go-Kart
Put them hours playing MarioCart to practical use on the streets of Tokyo with this cosplay/go-kart experience. Totally legal, you’ll be set up with costumes, carts and given free reign of the city. Be warned, however, you do still have to observe the rules of the road and must own an international driving license.
Address: 1-23-15 Kita-Shinagawa, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (Everyday)
Price: 3,500 – 13,000 yen per person
16. Ear-Cleaning Parlor
Yep, it does exist. If you want to relax while having your ears given a good clean, head to Yamamoto Mimikaki ear-cleaning parlor in Akihabara. Weird as it may seem, there are actually lots of clients, mostly men, who regularly come to the parlor to relieve stress and take it easy with some green tea.
Address: 1-2 Sotokanda, Akihabara
Hours: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm (Everyday)
Price: 3,200 yen (30 mins), 5,200 yen (1 hour)
17. Mr. Kanso
There are hundreds of bars in Tokyo and most of them have at least one unique feature. At Shinjuku bar Mr. Kanso, this unique feature is that it stocks nothing but canned goods. From Spam to a canned goose liver paste, even the drinks are all canned. Take your pick and enjoy some lovely not-so-fresh food and drink
Hours: 5:00 pm – 12:00 am (everyday)
Price: 350 – 2,500 yen
Toilets in Japan are, from a foreigner’s perspective, weird and awesome. With water jets, music, warmed seats and array of other functions, they put regular toilets to shame. If you can’t read Japanese, however, get ready for some unintended consequences if you get a little button crazy.
You can even check out the latest models in the TOTO Showroom in Shinjuku. The best part? Its free!
Lonely? Bored? Deserted? Then renting a friend is your best bet in Tokyo. Quirky as it may sound, it’s a common thing in Japan especially for people having trouble talking to strangers. Perhaps also a good option for getting shown around a brand new city as sprawling as Tokyo. Admittedly, it’s pretty weird, but then again, what in Tokyo isn’t? Specify your new friend’s gender and how long you’d like to hang out for and there you have it, a sightseeing buddy.
Price: 3,000 yen/hour
20. Kanda Myojin Shrine
Generally, shrines aren’t all that weird in Japan. However, if you’re tech crazy and couldn’t bear to see any harm come to your gadgets, check out this weird shrine which specialises in the blessing of gadgets. Located in Chiyoda-ku, right near Akihabara, you can receive blessings and protection for your electronics for just a small donation.
Address: 2-16-2, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Price: 500 – 1,000 yen
21. Piss Alley
You can’t miss Piss Alley while you’re in town (Memory Lane, for the less crude). The traditional ‘relief’ spot for drunken punters in the area, today the alley has cleaned up its act somewhat, playing host to a great selection of yakitori joints and tiny bars. Head down here in the evening for the old school vibes and tasty grub.
22. Tsukiji Market
One of Tokyo’s must-see locations, Tsukiji Market, the biggest fish market in the world, is where the weird and wonderful bounty of the sea is put on sale each morning. Get up early for the daily tuna auctions or if you’re not an early bird head down a little later and simply browse the vast market. Also, don’t pass up the opportunity to eat some of the freshest sushi you’re every likely to have.
Read our full guide to Tsukiji Market, here.
Address: 2-1, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm (guided tour)
Getting naked in front of strangers is apparently a thing in Japan. Onsen, or public baths, can be found almost anywhere in Japan and are the perfect way to relax after a long day of work or sightseeing. Niwa no Yu, located in Nerima-yu, is a large onsen with a variety of different baths and plenty of room to relax in. Read out full guide to Tokyo onsen, here.
Price: 2,250 yen or 1,260 yen after 6:00 pm on weekdays
Hours: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm (everyday)
Want more from Tokyo? What to see, what to do, what to eat and all the vital info? Compathy Magazine has everything you need and more: