Taxidermy and tea at this quirky medical-themed cafe and gallery in Fukuoka city.
We’ll have the tuberculosis toast with a side of candy laxatives, please. It’s what’s on the menu at Fukuoka’s Sanatorium, a medical-themed cafe full of freaky trinkets and anatomical models.
Everything down to the (hopefully unused) bedpan of sugar and taxidermy penguin behind the counter amps up the weirdness.
A visit to the capital city of southern Fukuoka Prefecture usually means slurping up a thick bowl of ramen and dining at outdoor food stands. If you’re looking for something a bit more interesting though, there’s the Sanatorium.
Hiding on the third floor of a nondescript building in the city’s downtown, the cafe and gallery serves as a quiet place to have a cup of tea while perusing some grotesque art.
Lunch at the Sanatorium
Step into this madhouse and change into a pair of hospital slippers as one of the workers dressed in a nurse outfit welcomes you. Take a seat at the counter which is fashioned to look like an operating room, complete with a huge surgical lamp hovering in the corner.
Curry is probably the only normal thing on the menu, but you don’t come to the Sanatorium for normal food! Go for the barium drink set which mimics the barium swallow test performed by your doctor. The “barium” is really a banana smoothie served in a beaker that comes with a side of candy “laxatives.” It’s surprisingly tasty.
The toast doesn’t exactly have tuberculosis either, thankfully it’s just your average pizza toast with a tiny pair of lungs sticking out on a toothpick. The Sanatorium specializes in small snacks and fun drinks (including alcohol) so it’s not a place you’d come for a full course meal.
Like many themed restaurants in Japan, the food is not really the centerpiece. It’s more of the atmosphere and dedication to the theme that makes the Sanatorium worthwhile. Everything down to the (hopefully unused) bedpan of sugar and the taxidermy penguin behind the counter amps up the weirdness.
Creepy drawings and sculptures of deformed animals crowd the cafe’s walls and shelves. There’s even a brain scan of the owner on display! Take the chance to browse through them as your nurse prepares your medical test results.
The cafe is actually a branch of the Fukuoka Fushigi Museum which has a bigger collection of bizarre sculptures and horror paintings. Since the museum is located deep in the mountains of Fukuoka and only opens on the last Sunday of every month, the Sanatorium is a more accessible option.
Whether you’re seeking treatment for your medical fetish or simply want to experience one of Japan’s quirky themed restaurants, the doors of the Sanatorium are always open (except on Wednesdays).
Interested in more off-the-beaten-path spots in Japan? Check out our offbeat section for more travel ideas!