From monster lined streets to wonderfully unique bars with the size of a dorm room, Japan has some of the most bizarre and quirkiest experiences you can have. After all, where else can you visit Stonehenge and Easter Island all on the same day? You can swim in pools of wine, stay in a capsule hotel, or drink coffee with a goat. And who wouldn’t want to visit a robot restaurant?
In the mood for something different? Check out some of the most unusual and intriguing things you can do in the land of the Rising Sun.
Even if you’re half way around the globe, you can still see Lady Liberty. This replica, which stands in Odaiba, was supposed to be temporary, but the Japanese fell in love and so the lady still proudly stands over 15 years later.
The Ninja Akasaka gives a whole new meaning to the idea of silent and quick table service. The restaurant is entirely Ninja themed, starting with a blank, unmarked black door as its entryway and completed with secret passwords necessary for entrance (a ninja will provide you with the code). The menu involves fantastic twists on Japanese cuisine, complete with swords and special effects. The Ninja restaurant is so cool even had to check this place out, and you can see where he sat thanks to a commemorative plaque honoring the occasion.
If the name alone isn’t enough to entice you, the promise of a giant park filled with the unexpected should. Almost a playground for adults, the entire park is filled with upside down buildings, steep drop offs, bizarre plants, and rather precarious cliffs and holes. “Encountering the unexpected” is the theme of the park, and nearly everything you run into has a bizarre twist on what you would normally experience in reality. There’s a house that’s mostly a maze, and hills made to make humans act, and feel, like insects. If you’re up for a visit, you’ll be given a helmet before entering, which is only the beginning of the weird happenings you’ll experience.
Tokyo’s Nonbei Yokocho neighborhood houses over 50 microbars, which are bars barely big enough to fit in more than a handful of people, including the bartender. The bars are located along two streets that run parallel to each other, known informally as “Drunkard’s Alley.” Each bar is only about 100 square feet, although some still sport an upstairs room as well that were originally places of business for prostitutes in the city half a century ago. Now only the bars remain, and is home to some of the best bars to meet people and bar hop from one tiny room to another. Be warned, however, each building is far too small to house a toilet, so you must walk to the end of the street to the bathhouse that is shared among the bars.
Japan has several cafes where visitors can eat, drink coffee, relax, and enjoy spending time with a variety of animals, from cats, dogs, goats, and even owls! The cafes are perfect for animal lovers and coffee lovers alike. One of the best cafes to visit is the Temari no Ouchi, on the outer edge of Tokyo. The distance from Tokyo’s downtown means the cafe is a little harder to access, but also less crowded and touristy than other cafes. There is no time limit for visits, and you can stay as long as you like to play with the cats while listening to relaxing music.
The last surviving streetcar in Tokyo, the Toden Arakawa Line is a great way to step back in time and imagine when Tokyo’s streets were lined with streetcars as the city’s main mode of transportation. An entire ride from beginning to end takes just under an hour, and is lined with 30 stations full of good attractions and pit stops you won’t want to miss along the way. An entire day pass costs only around 400 yen, and provides ample of opportunity to experience a different side of Japan.
What better way to make sure your dinner is fresh than by catching it yourself? At Zauo restaurant, visitors are given fishing poles and allowed to fish for fresh river fish and lobsters. After the catch, the chefs will cook your catch in whatever manner you choose, including sashimi, in a soup, fried, or tempura style. While you can order straight off the menu, catching your own fish earns you a discount on prices, and an experience you won’t forget! Be prepared to get a bit wet and dress accordingly.
Nara Dreamland may be more dream like now than it was in its inception in 1961. The amusement park, which was supposed to be a Japanese Disneyland, was closed in 2006, and has quickly become one of the best and most photographed abandoned urban places in existence. The park is technically closed to visitors, and trespassing is illegal, but that doesn’t stop people from regularly ditching the rules and experiencing some of the post-apocalyptic romance for themselves.
As certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, Japan houses the world’s shortest escalator, which rises a mere 32 inches from beginning to end. The escalator, which is named Puchicalator, is located in More’s Department Store in Kawasaki, Japan. The Puchicalator only has 5 steps, and is surrounded by other stationary steps on both sides, making it one of the most pointless and amusing escalators in existence. Ride as many times as you like; you’ll be glad you did.
Yokai Street is home to more than just shops, galleries, and commercial buildings; the street is also home to hundreds of monsters that line the sidewalks. Some of the monsters have come to life straight from a fairy tale, while others are creations of random assorted items without meaning or purpose. All of them are homemade by the owners of the shop, and walking along the street is a great way to enjoy all of the different creative monsters.
Japan is well known for its Robot Restaurant, but that isn’t the only Robot experience you should have in Japan. Honda’s ASIMO (which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) is so eerily human like that the robot can interact with humans, recognize faces, and yes, even play soccer. The robot often travels around the globe, but can frequently be seen at several museums and Honda locations around Japan.
Well Japan rules the world in strange restaurants, including authentic Victorian era Maid served cafes, the service doesn’t stop there. Now you can also get your hair styled, shampooed and cut by your very own Maid, all of whom are dressed in maid style costumes. Located by Tokyo’s Akihabara station, at Moesham 0907, the service is perfect for both men and women who have always wanted to experience the posher side of life in the early 1900s.
Seeing the giant and mysterious Easter Island statues on Moai, visiting Stonehenge in England and gazing up at the large Buddha statue in Hong Kong are all on your bucket list, you can easily replicate all three in Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Hokkaido, Japan. Besides just being a graveyard, the cemetery also contains large iconic replicas of world wonders. Admission is free, and you can catch a free shuttle from Makomanai Station as well.
While shelling out for a nice bottle of wine with dinner is beyond some of our budgets, Japan allows even the cheapest traveler the chance to skip the sip and dive straight into a bath of wine. The Yunessun Spa is one of the strangest spas you will ever encounter, offering not only wine soaks but sake, coffee, and even green tea baths as well. While the health benefits of soaking in a pool of wine may be debatable, the experience alone is worth the modest price.
This one is just as dirty as it sounds. The Vibrator Bar, located in the center of Tokyo, is an entire bar that revolves completely around the somewhat taboo topic of female masturbation. Drinks are served in vibrator like bottles, and visitors are welcome to drink and browse the rather large selection of vibrators and other sex toys for sale located around the bar. Only girls and couples are allowed entrance, as the entirely female staff is ready to not only serve you drinks but also help pick out the best sex toys to fit your needs.
Interested in visiting Hell? In Japan, you can visit 8 different hells at the Beppu Hot Springs. The Springs are Japan’s Hot Springs capitol, with over 2500 hot springs. Not all of these hot springs are your average resort level thermal springs, however; the 8 Hells Hot Springs waters are over 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and each “hell” is completely unique from the other hot springs. One is a mass of grey bubbles, while another is almost fluorescent light blue in color. Still another features crocodiles that slide in and around the hellish hot spring. You can tour all 8 hells for only 3600 yen, and get to experience each hell for yourself.
If you’re hungry for an unusual experience and some actual food, try grabbing a bite at Mr. Kanso Bar, a restaurant where the menu consists of only canned food. In fact, there isn’t a menu at all; dinners are invited to peruse the shelves that line the store and pick out their own tin cans on the shelves to create their meal. You’ll be provided with some plastic forks and spoons to eat, and a server opens your cans for you. While the idea seems a bit off the wall, the restaurant has become popular enough to become a chain, with several locations in Japan and Tokyo alone.
Located in Akihabara, this secret cafe allows visitors to have their ears cleaned and dewaxed by a Cosplay girl. For half an hour, and 2500 yen, clients lay their heads on the girl’s knees while enjoying what is advertised as the “ultimate therapy.” Every girl is trained in the science and art of professional ear cleaning by using an ear pick to remove excess wax. The cafe is hard to find, the website provides limited information and no pictures are allowed.
Located on the fifth floor of Taiyo office building in Tokyo, the Alice in Labyrinth restaurant brings Lewis Carroll’s book to life; to reach the restaurant you must first travel through a hallway lined with the book’s pages and trinkets, all larger than life and of giant proportions. The restaurant maids are all dressed in Alice in Wonderland costumes, and even the menu is detailed with moments right from the book.
Nara Park is home to some of the most tame and polite deer in the world. The public park, located in Nara, Japan, has long been considered a sacred place for deer, and after years of protection against hunting, have become famously tame and brazenly welcoming to visitors. All of the deer in the park have been taught how to bow to visitors who walk through the park. You can even buy deer treats and cakes from several huts around the park and give them to the deer to treat them for their courtly manners.
Fukubukuro Dessert, in Tokyo, Japan, is home to some of the strangest and most bizarre flavors of ice cream ever conceived. Flavors vary, and the menu includes everything from Potato, Shark fin, Oyster, Rose, Basil, Indian Curry, and yep, even Garlic flavored Ice Cream. The restaurant is located inside an indoor theme park, Namco Namja Town, and only costs a few hundred yen for 6 sample scoops from their varied selection.
This museum is not for the faint of heart, or for the weak of stomach, but it is definitely one of the most quirky museums Japan has to offer. Located in Tokyo, in Meguro, the museum houses everything parasite related, from giant tapeworms to diagrams of what parasites are in your own body. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. The museum is tiny but packed full of information, quite possibly more than you ever needed, or wanted, to know.
Japan has long been established as a country filled with oddities, but one of the best experiences you can try in Japan, and only in Japan, is to buy something crazy straight from a vending machine. Along with sodas and snacks, Japan is filled with vending machines that also dole out toys, hair products, fresh fruit, and yes, even hamburgers. Tateishi Hamburger, the famous hamburger vending machine, costs you only 100 yen for a hamburger, which is freshly cooked one at a time by a man standing behind the vending machine wall.
Aokigahara Forest boasts stunning views of Mount Fiji, ancient lava caves, and some of the densest, most lush forest landscapes in the world. The forest has a bit of a bizarre and morbid history, however, and is more commonly known as “Suicide Forest” due to it being the second most popular place to commit suicide across the globe, averaging around 100 per year. The reason, however, is exactly the reason why you should go; the forest is hauntingly beautiful, with some of the best scenery and views of Japanese landscape you can enjoy. The sea of trees is dense enough to be eerily and almost suffocating silent, and the introspection into your own life is hard to combat. Signs around the park urge visitors to think about the beauty in their own life in order to help combat the suicide bent, with plaques that read “Let’s think once more about the life you were given, your parents, your brothers and sisters, and children. Don’t suffer alone. Please contact somebody.”
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