The Weirdest Things to Do in Tokyo

Japan has a solid reputation as a place with lots of fun and unique stuff to do, from trying strange food and drink, to using futuristic toilet seats, to visiting a random desert just across the way from China. Given this fact, it makes sense that Tokyo should be one of the quirkiest cities in the world.

The good news is that if you're on the lookout for weird things to do in Tokyo, you have a lifetime worth of them to do. The bad news is that it would literally take a lifetime for you to see all the weird things there are to see in Tokyo, so follow the list below to save yourself a few decades.

01 of 10

Dance with Cyborgs at Shinjuku's Robot Restaurant

Robot Restaurant
Cory Doctrow via Wikimedia Commons

Japan is not only ultra-weird, but ultra-modern, so it wouldn't be entirely surprising if the robots at the so-called "Robot Restaurant" in Shinjuku were actually, well, robots. Unfortunately for you A.I. aficionados, while much of the paraphernalia at the Robot Restaurant, which has a hefty 6,000-yen entry fee, are indeed fully mechanized, the scantily-clad robogirls who dance and serve food here are mere humans dressed in android costumes.

02 of 10

Pet Cats at a Café in Ikebukuro

Cat Cafe

TripSavvy / Ryan Smith

Japan, 〒170-0002 Tokyo, Toshima City, Sugamo, 1-chōme−13−4 プラザビル 5F
Phone +81 3-6902-2886

Located several stops north of Tokyo station via train or metro, Ikebukuro is slightly removed from the mayhem of Tokyo, but don't let its (relatively) quiet ambiance fool you: There's plenty of weirdness to go around. After having lunch at a dirt-cheap, conveyor belt sushi restaurants, head east away from Ikebukuro staton until you reach Nekorobi Cat Cafe, where you can pet as many as two dozen cats (depending on the day) as you sip a variety of coffees, teas and other beverages.

03 of 10

Spot Street Style in Harajuku

Harajuku Street Style
Robert Schrader
2-1 Yoyogikamizonochō, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-0052, Japan
Phone +81 3-3469-6081

Speaking of things that were popular in the past, who can forget the first chapter of Gwen Stefani's long-forgotten solo career, when she sang about "Harajuku Girls" and their "wicked style"? Gwen Stefani for one probably, given the controversy that arose during that era. Casual racism notwithstanding, the former No Doubt frontwoman was right about one thing: few spots in Tokyo are better for scoping out otherworldly street style than Harajuku, and in particular Yoyogi Park on Sundays. 

04 of 10

Sleep (and Save!) in a Capsule Hotel

Capsule Hotel Tokyo
Chris 73 via Wikimedia Commons

It takes mere seconds on the streets of Tokyo (or in its metro system, or flying over it in the air for that matter) to realize that space is limited here, to say nothing of how much the price of real estate here hammers that point home. Thankfully for travelers who are on a budget, several hoteliers have turned both these truths on end to offer one of the most creative—and, in Japan, budget-friendly—accommodation options ever: The Capsule Hotel.

As its name suggests, a capsule hotel consists of tiny sleeping "capsules" that are built into a wall like honeycombs. Note that many capsule hotels are male-only, and that you if you stay in Tokyo for many days, you probably won't be able to store your things in your capsule during the daytime due to cleaning.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Live Your Best Anime Life in Akihabara

Anime store in Akihabara

TripSavvy / Maria Ligaya

Unless you were living under a rock during the Pokemon craze of the late 1990s, you associate Japan with anime. If you've still "gotta catch 'em all," head to Tokyo's de-facto anime district of Akihabara, whose shops are close to a real-life Pokeball as you're going to get. Akihabara is also a hub for non-anime movies and videos games and really, tech in general, so even if you're a geek of the less anime-obsessed sort, you're sure to feel at home here.

06 of 10

Dine in a Maid Café

Tokyo Maid Cafe
Jonathan Siegel via Getty 

Love neon lights, but hate anime? That's OK. Another reason to make the journey to Akihabara is the "maid cafe" concept the district's Maidreamin restaurant is credited with popularizing. In spite of what the uniforms of the "maids" might suggest, this experience is not meant to be a particularly erotic one, but rather to be in line with the kawaii or "cute" culture that's so central in modern Japan. 

07 of 10

Ride in a Real-Life Mario Kart

Mario Kart in Tokyo
 Keith Tsuji via Getty
4-chōme-12-9 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan
Phone +81 80-8899-8899

It's no secret that the world has Japan to thank for much of its current video game culture. It's fitting then, though perhaps a bit regressive, that you can now have a "Real World" Mario Kart experience on the streets of Tokyo. Whether you ride Mario Karts in Akihabara (which is as famous for arcades as it is for anime), or elsewhere in Japan's capital, there's just one question: Which character will you choose?

08 of 10

Watch a Morning Sumo Practice

Morning Sumo Practice

Buddhika Weerasinghe via Getty

1-chōme-3-61 Kōraku, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 112-0004, Japan
Phone +81 3-5800-9999

If you've spent time in Tokyo, then you know Ryogoku district is home to the city's sumo culture, not to mention Japan's highest-stakes sumo matches.  What you probably don't realize is that there's a more intimate setting to watch these mega-sized men do their thing than piling into Tokyo Dome. Increasingly, sumo organizations are allowing members of the public to view their morning practices, an activity you can book through many Japan travel agencies, or which you can ask your hotel reception about.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Order a Meal from a Vending Machine

Vending Machine
Chris McGrath via Getty

Japan's vending machine culture, in general, is remarkable—there's one vending machine for every 23 people in Japan, as of 2015. But in addition to the fact that you can order a wide array of beverages from Japanese vending machines, you can also order meals, particularly at fast-food noodle shops in and around train stations. The food doesn't actually come from the machine, of course (you present your ticket inside, to a food prepared who is human, at least for now), but ordering food from a vending machine is a great way to pass the time while you wait for your Shinkansen.

10 of 10

Visit the (Other) Statue of Liberty

Japan Statue of Liberty

Chakarin Wattanamongkol via Getty

Japan's neighbor China is the best-known country in Asia when it comes to fakes, but Tokyo is home to one extremely notorious replica. Though not full-sized or intended to be anything but an homage, the "Statue of Liberty" that sits on Odaiba, an island just over the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo districts like Ginza and Shimbashi, is nonetheless one of the weirdest attractions in Tokyo. Make your trip to Odaiba blindingly bizarre by getting there via Yurikamome, a fully-automated train.

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The Weirdest Things to Do in Tokyo – #4 is My Favorite!