It’s Halloween season again, but unfortunately, Japan isn’t really into trick-or-treating. Luckily there’s plenty of spooky and creepy restaurants and bars located around Tokyo, and a few other cities as well, that are sure to make your blood curdle. Here are the five best places to eat and drink with ghosts and ghouls all season long—they range from a tad touristy to totally bizarre.
What really makes this bar a “thriller” is that once an hour the lights turn out and a performer gets up on stage to tell you a scary story. The storytellers have real talent and their spooky sound effects and perfectly controlled voice will make you forget you’re just sitting in a restaurant.
During the storytelling—other scary surprises in the bar add to it—as to what those are, we’ll leave it up to your imagination for now! The tales themselves are told in Japanese only, so you’ll need a certain level of the language to actually understand it. Thriller Night is really awesome, but honestly, as a drinkin’ spot, it’s pretty unremarkable. You get an hour of all you can drink and sometimes the staff will come by and chat with you casually about horror stories.
In addition to Tokyo, they have a location in northern Sapporo too.
Draped in shadow and red velvet, this Ginza restaurant offers you the chance to be served by the city’s finest lords of the night. All the little details of this restaurant from the tome-like menu to the actual bell you ring to call the vampires make up the eerie and morbid atmosphere any horror-lover needs.
The food is bloodsucker themed, as well, with a pizza shaped like a fancy letter to a vampire soiree and a spider made out of ice cream. It looks creepy, but thankfully the food is so delicious it might be worth being turned into a vampire to eat it. You can even order a whole chicken they will set on fire for you!
As you would expect from immortal beings, the vampire staff is familiar with foreign customers and you won’t need Japanese to enjoy the delicious “death pasta” or a cocktail with a witch finger in it. Call 03-3289-5360 to make a reservation. As far as access, take the Ginza Station B3 Exit and walk a few minutes.
Akabane Reien (Akabane Cemetery in English) lacks production value, but it does have lots of heart and originality. The two-hour-all-you-can-drink (and sing!) is incredibly cheap, and while you’re partying, the bar’s owner will do his best to scare the shit outta ya with ingenious contraptions he’s hidden within the restaurant (so make sure you’re chewing carefully).
The bar, which is on the outskirts of Tokyo, is pretty small, but it’s bursting with skulls, weird test tubes, mannequin heads, and a very creepy painting of a Japanese woman. There’s also some, uh, interesting food choices like a “bunch of hair” or wieners that are certainly… graphic and leave nothing to the imagination. It’s not the most professional, but it sure is special.
This tiny underground bar in Osaka is a museum of creepy and horrific wonders, filled with taxidermy, BDSM gear, and medieval armor. The bar owner, dressed in velvet and lace, serves tequila, black vodka, and a housemade cocktail called “Dracula’s Blood” that we weren’t feeling adventurous enough to try.
Nu-metal videos play on a flatscreen TV all night long, and if you feel like flexing your Japanese skills, the bartender will be happy to tell you all about her carefully-curated collection. A disfigured, mangled foot with eyes made by Osaka-born horror movie special effects artist Screaming Mad George sits up on a shelf, staring at a Greecian statue wearing a strapon across the room.
Take a seat on one of the sofas in a dark corner of the bar and try the “eyeball jelly” which looks almost to real for comfort. This isn’t a touristy place, it’s an underground locale for people who are truly freaky.
The most famous option on this list, The Lock Up, is a prison-themed izakaya (Japanese pub) where the presentation of the food and drinks takes center stage. The themed drinks are especially fun and include outlandish concoctions like a chemistry set, blood bag and “time bomb” pills, which are ¥150 each but really do get you intoxicated. Once or twice during your visit, there will be a prison break and the staff will run around scaring each table/cell.
That’s right they really lock you up in a cell complete with iron bars. The atmosphere during the “escape” can get intense, but rest assured it’s totally safe and that the anticipation is really what will get your heart pumping. In reality, what’s most scary is the long waits both to enter and for your food and drink to be served. (It’s less crowded to go on a weekday.) This place is best enjoyed when you keep in mind it is more touristy than quirky.
You’ll find this crazy prison in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Saitama.
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