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Yushukan War Museum

A political controversy surrounds Yasukuni Shrine because since 1978, fourteen class A war criminals are among the 2.5 million people enshrined at Yasukuni. Furthermore, the visits by several Japanese prime ministers and cabinet members to the shrine since 1975 have been causing concerns regarding a violation of the principle of separation of church and state. Next to the shrine buildings stands the Yushukan, a museum that commemorates and documents Japan's wars from the perspective of the conservative right wing.

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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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Village Vanguard

... the one in Shimokitazawa is a labyrinthine bazaar that will satisfy anyone interested in pop culture, mangas, gadgets, candies, records, books, name it you'll find it. It is very difficult to get out of the store without buying anything, so may the force be with you should you be on a prison cell tight budget. Even if you're not into consumerism nor pop culture, go catch a glimpse at what the store has to offer, as the place is an explosion of sound and color and it's full of Kodak moments.

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Mosakusha Anarchist Bookstore

Tokyo's only Anarchist bookstore. Yes, the books are in Japanese. But, jesus, who cares? It's Tokyo's only Anarchist bookstore. Well, one of two!

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Moesham Maid Shampoo Café

Akuma wore a pink and white maid's costume with shiny black shoes with schoolgirl buckles. She had hair-cutting instruments stuffed in her apron pockets like Batman's utility belt. I signed a release form and had Hiromi plead with her, "Do not cut too much." Akuma said I was her first American customer. She told me, "You are very handsome." At least that's what Hiromi said she said. It would have been impolite for me to argue. While I wasn't allowed to ask Akuma any questions, she interrogated me like Nancy Grace after a "not guilty" verdict. Was this my first time in Japan? What did I think about her country? Was the water too hot? How long was I staying? Would I come back to see her again?

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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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Takao Trick Art Museum

The Takao Trick Art Museum is a big maze of optical illusions, 3-D artwork and clever angles for photo taking to create the impression of fun, dangerous and impossible feats. Stand on the "X" on the floor with a pained look on your face, have your friend holding the camera stand in the designated spot over there, and suddenly it looks like a real whale is leaping out of the picture frame and onto your back. Stand on the glass floor that looks as if it covers a bottomless pit and try to figure out how the mirrors create that effect from a drop of only a few centimeters. The Trick Art Museum is as much about puzzling over the illusions as it is creating funny photos to share on Facebook.

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Chuo Incineration Plant

The Chuo Incineration Plant runs irregular tours for the first 50 people to arrive. Free and fascinating. See their calendar for dates. More information is available from Tokyo23.

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