4. Alcatraz E.R. (Shibuya)
The oldest prison/hospital-themed restaurant in Tokyo, Alcatraz E.R. will welcome you behind its bars with lovely waitresses dressed as nurses. You'll be quickly locked behind bars, your cell nicely decorated with blood, ominous handprints and weird graffiti. Look out for jars filled with bloody parts while you enjoy drinking from a severed human head or nibbling on a liver (it's really just a red omelet—or at least that's what they say!). Those with a taste for pain should be sure to order a "slap shot": after you drink your shot, the staff will take a running start and really let you have it!
3. Vampire Café (Ginza)
We must give a shout-out to a key location from our Café Week, contributed by Nicholas Rich. As its name implies, Vampire Café’s décor is baroque and feels ominous. Butlers and maids escort visitors to their seats, and the dimly-lit booths and throne-themed seating make it easy to feel like a count in a keep (the main page of the website, in Japanese, offers information about the venue under the “Castle Info” tab). The food and drinks aren’t quite as beautifully grotesque as others on this list, but they are decidedly dark and look as delicious as they do macabre. While menu items start at ¥500, the Vampire Café offers course menus for those with a Dracula-sized appetite, and staff are even kind enough to sing you a song on your birthday.
2. The Lockup (Various)
Established in several central areas of Tokyo and all over Japan, the Lockup locations take the "horror prison" theme very seriously: after going through the dark entrance, guests are seated in a prison cell, handcuffed and occasionally scared by the personne … oops, inmates. The food selection also follows the theme, with drinks served in test tubes, syringes and blood bags instead of glasses, and food coming in creepy shapes with eyes and gloomy crosses.
Shops can be found in Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Ueno and Omiya, as well as Sapporo, Niigata, Shizuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Check the site with a kanji reader to find the one nearest you!
1. Yurei (Kichijoji)
Japanese yurei spirits are akin to Western ghosts: if a person dies filled with resentment and hatred or suffers a sudden and violent death, their spirit will haunt this Earth until laid to rest with the proper rites.
Waitresses dressed in traditional white burial kimono will welcome you in this tiny hell of restless souls, filled with fog and decorated with statues of skeletons and monsters. The food is part of the experience, with dishes looking like ghosts and impaled voodoo dolls. Your table will also include a severed, bloody human arm that you can use to call the waitresses—how lovely is that?