Thunderbirds Cafe

Well, it only took 47 years, but finally Tracy Island has come to life in Tokyo in the form of the charming Thunderbirds Cafe. It nails the vibe of the 1960s TV show perfectly. Clambering down the stairs among dense faux-foliage to the restaurant’s basement entrance – a lavish red leather door – visitors are greeted by a spacious hall decked out in thrall to International Rescue, those pioneering puppets who saved the world week in, week out. All the music is taken from the show, a mix of tropical tiki pop and dramatic adventure scores, and mute TV screens show episodes on loop.

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Lockup

Last week, I reached an all-time high on the level of weirdness when I found “The Lockup,” a prison-themed restaurant in Shibuya (Tokyo). And by prison themed, I mean that the restaurant was in the basement of a building that made you go through a labyrinth of horror to just get to the door, the staff all either wore stripped prison suits or sexy cop outfits with handcuffs (only the women), and all of the food was “prison-themed.”

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Ninja Akasaka

Staff dressed like ninja escort you via trapdoors to your table, take your order and might even perform special ninja magic tricks. Sure it’s campy and even touristy, but dude, they’re ninjas! Kids will love it, and grown-ups don’t have to suffer through bad food. À la carte dishes with ninja-fied names (‘transformation of tuna and negi (leek) sashimi’) are creative but dainty for the price; go for the 10-dish set menus.

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Loft Plus One

This is the only place in Japan, if not the world, where mafia bosses will take to the stage and give frank answers to questions from the audience about lives of crime and violence. Porn actresses will share a podium with (as well as perform taunting stripteases for) members of the Male Virgin Alliance. On one night, parliamentarians will be debating the government's policy on North Korea with hectoring drunks; on another, career pimps will be revealing the secrets of their profession amid a respectful hush. In fact, one never knows what to expect from this basement venue in Tokyo's Kabukicho red-light district.

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Hollow Point

Tucked away in a basement in Roppongi (easily the sleaziest neighborhood I went to in Tokyo, as it's the one that caters to foreigners) lies Hollow Point, a bar with a twist. Sure, you can get drinks and bar food here, but down at the end of the narrow space is a shooting gallery. You can rent any number of realistic-looking air guns (ranging from pistols with laser sights, like the one I'm using, to big semi-automatic and automatic rifles), buy a clip or three, and go to town on either the bottles set up or a zombie-headed target. Who knew that drinking and shooting guns would be such a fun combo?

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Alcatraz ER

One of the first theme restaurants to open in Tokyo, Alcatraz ER is, as its name suggests, styled after a prison hospital. A prison hospital from hell, that is. The menu includes human intestines (OK, it’s an unfeasibly long sausage in a kidney dish), a penis on a bed of lettuce (another sausage, suggestively carved) and various impossibly spicy delectables. One thing to keep in mind -- you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the wicked nurses, who have a habit of pulling down unruly customers’ trousers to administer an injection from a gigantic syringe. You have been warned.

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Mr Kanso

A chain of bars currently opening up in Tokyo has been getting a lot of attention for its unusual menu, which includes items such as sea lion curry and steamed Korean silkworm chrysalis. Not for the faint of stomach, Mr. Kanso, is a no-frills drinking establishment that offers an impressively diverse menu of 350 items all of which come out of a can.

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