While Japan is known for its exquisite cuisine, served in elegant and gracious dining venues, it also has an underworld of restaurants that provide customers with an unusually different dining experience.
Here's a glimpse of 3 types of restaurants that engage the customer with more show than food, and which have become quite popular recently.
It might be a bit of a misnomer to call these places restaurants, as they serve little more than lunch boxes full of snacks and beverages (yes, alcoholic ones, too). Pay a fee that includes the snacks and show—and get ready. It is kind of like a hyper-amped up manga written by a fellow who has had one too many, containing robots on steroids, bikini-clad cuties, and monsters of all sorts who interact…somehow…as part of the show. It's loud, frenetic, chaotic—and a heck of a lot of fun. Don't worry about understanding what's going on—it all happens so fast, and with so many lights blinking and so much music blasting that by the time you think you've got it figured out, the next segment has begun. Don't miss it.
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There are over 215 maid cafes in Japan, a testament to how popular this fad continues to be. They have become one of the icons of Japan's globally popular anime/POP culture. While some might glance askew at these places filled with young women dressed up in someone's vision of a maid (whose sole aim is to please their "masters"), they continue to increase in popularity.
Now, in Akihabara, the Mecca of Anime lovers, the discount shop chain Don Quijote has opened "@homecafe", a slice of maid heaven for those so inclined. There is also “maidreamin”, which has 12 locations in Tokyo, one in Nagoya and two in Osaka. The maids are adorable and friendly, willing to chat with you, and they'll even write on your food with ketchup while intoning a special "chant" so your food tastes better. You can purchase merchandise, including games and pictures, and enjoy listening to the maids perform dances and sing songs. Be forewarned—time inside is limited to one hour, and there is an additional seating charge. The line to get in can stretch to over 2 hours on weekends/evenings.
What's more fun than a ninja-themed restaurant? Probably a lot of things, but this appealing, family-friendly theme-park style eatery that looks like an ancient castle or a ninja hideaway might just be what you are looking for when the kids are hungry, and you could use a little bit of kitschy entertainment. Waiters guide you down maze-like passages to your dining area, use their ninja prowess to scare you when you least expect it with a shout or a jump, and even perform magic tricks! Now in Tokyo, Kyoto, and New York!
For more information on Ninja Kyoto, please visit here.
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