These immersive dining experiences are themed after everything from Pikachu to live owls.
If you ever wished to be part of your favorite fictional world, visiting a themed restaurant in Tokyo is a way to make your dream come true. For over a decade, Japanese theme restaurants—which immerse diners in interactive fantasy realms—have been drawing in crowds. A night out might include such kitschy experiences as eating a vacuum-packed burger amidst dystopian ruins or drinking red wine alongside Bible-toting nuns.
Although venues have come and gone over the years, the fantasy dining trend remains highly popular in Tokyo. You can visit over a dozen cafes and bars based on odd topics, from cute animal mascots to iron-pumping women. Here are 14 of Tokyo’s coolest themed restaurants that let you suspend reality and be the main character in a brave new world.
The most surreal restaurant in Tokyo, Kagaya, has a new location in Hatanodai. When you first meet Mark, he seems to be the typical owner of an izakaya or Japanese home-style pub. However, the dining experience catapults into befuddling territory as soon as he presents the menus. It’s best not to spoil the surprises—but be prepared for frog costumes, frenetic dancing, and even puppets. Mark has a background in traditional Japanese theater that elevates his performances, which are sure to leave you laughing and scratching your head.
Muscle Girls Bar
Celebrate strong women at Muscle Girls, a friendly bar staffed by young bodybuilders who pump iron at a women-only gym. The bartenders sport neon activewear and are eager to flex their biceps and perform pull-ups for cheering customers. Order a cocktail or protein shake, and dare to challenge a Muscle Girl to arm wrestle. Clients can play games and take photos with the powerful ladies for an extra fee.
Eorzea Final Fantasy Cafe
Fans of the video game series Final Fantasy can take roleplaying a step further at Eorzea Cafe. The eatery pays homage to the fantastical, sci-fi world and its characters. Admire weaponry and stained-glass windows taken straight from the game design, and say hello to the cute cat-like Moogles hanging from the ceiling. While you listen to the Final Fantasy soundtrack on a loop, snack on themed dishes such as croquettes that look like Giant Beaver minions.
Dick Bruna Table
Miffy, the cute Dutch bunny, is the star of the show at Dick Bruna Table. The modern space is illuminated by dangling Miffy lamps, and the tables come with giant, plush rabbits to keep you company as you eat. Nibble a cheesecake popsicle decorated with the minimalist mascot’s face in chocolate sauce, and shop for only-in-Japan character goods at the gift store.
Creep into Ninja Restaurant for fine dining with an immersive twist. Enter through a trap door and make your way through secret passageways to reach your table. The staff—a team of black-clad ninjas—hands you a scroll for the menu and performs magic and sword tricks throughout the night. Order a salad that comes with a katana sword, and try an appetizer with an attached string. When lit on fire, the flame shoots down and sizzles the seafood.
The Church Bar
The Church Bar is an incongruous sight in Shibuya: the entrance looks like a Christian chapel with arched wood doors and a glowing cross. Go inside, and you’ll realize this sanctuary is more like a house of sin. Order a goblet of red wine from bartenders who look like European nuns in full habits. Huddle in a pew stuffed with Bibles and wave your arms to live techno spun at The Church’s altar.
Alice in Fantasy Book
Fall down the rabbit hole into Alice in Fantasy Book, a faithful recreation of Lewis Carroll’s hallucinogenic story. The staff wears frilled dresses and headbands, much like Disney’s Alice, and the room is designed to feel like the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Make your way past the scowling playing card soldier statues, and pull up a heart-shaped chair to dine on Cheshire Cat pasta (the dish uses a sliced egg and olives to reproduce his smiling eyes).
Pompompurin Cafe is one of Tokyo’s cutest theme restaurants. It celebrates Pompompurin, a rotund yellow dog mascot created by Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty. Take photos with enormous statues of the character and his animal friends, and eat adorably decorated food like a hot chocolate with the puppy floating on top. Some of the flavor combinations veer on the odd side, such as dog-shaped chocolate pancakes with a pasta bowtie and a side of mashed potatoes.
Enter the bloodthirsty world of Lestat and Dracula at the Vampire Cafe. The interiors are straight out of an Anne Rice novel with heavy velvet curtains, Gothic chandeliers, and a long hallway lit with red blood cell tiles. A cape and fang-wearing server takes you to a casket table, where you can bite into afternoon tea snacks decorated like skulls and eyeballs.
Catch ‘em all at the Pokemon Cafe, a love letter to the world of Pikachu and other pocket monsters. The yellow chubby-cheeked mascot is everywhere you look: there’s a giant statue of him at the front and stuffed toys at the tables. Pokemon Café’s menu cleverly uses ingredients to re-create characters, such as using white rice to build Snorlax’s big belly. Every so often, people wearing full-body mascot suits jiggle through the room to meet customers and snap photos.
Deathmatch in Hell
As its name suggests, Deathmatch in Hell is a bar for dark culture and horror movie lovers. The Golden Gai drinking hole only holds a dozen or so customers, who gather to watch and fawn over cult B-horror films. In line with the gory theme, the walls are splattered with demons and pentagram posters, and all the cocktails cost ¥ $ 666.
Neo Shinjuku Atsushi
A dystopian, cyberpunk Blade Runner world comes to life at Neo Shinjuku Atsushi. The bar imagines that society has collapsed in the near future, leaving behind a crumbling neon-lit ruin. Neo Shinjuku’s post-apocalyptic menu includes a vacuum-packed cheeseburger and drinks conceived by ChatGPT. Sip on sake made from seahorses and a cocktail injected with carbon dioxide as you envision your bleak Mad Max future.