Tokyo is probably one of the busiest capitals in the world but other than its endless neon-lit skyscrapers and scenic gardens lined with Cherry trees, the city is bustling with quirky adventures you probably wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
Fancy driving around downtown Tokyo dressed in your favourite video game character? Or having a picnic in one of the most scenic cemeteries? Here’s our quirky Tokyo guide to experiencing them all.
Quirky things to do in Tokyo
Real life Mario Kart
This is one place where your childhood dreams become a reality (my childhood dreams at least). I’ve never been great at the video game (Mario Kart) but seeing life sized Marios & Luigis riding go-karts on main street Tokyo alongside other regular commuters pretty much sold itself into my bucket list.
The best part? You get to explore any street you want — apart from highways. Hiring a guide in a separate kart is entirely optional. Just make sure you know your way back and remember to don on some gloves if you’re driving in winter.
Address: Building Sasage B1F, 2-4-6 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Group Size
Opening hours: 10am – 7pm
*Pro-tip: Start by finding out where the nearest petrol kiosk is and how long it takes to get there. Karts need to be returned with a full tank or will incur a ¥800 fee.
Watch us in action:
Sake tasting buffet
The perfect place to end off your night in Tokyo is none other than the Kurand Sake Market. Pick your favourite sake glasses from the counter and taste from over 100 types of sake from all around Japan. We especially loved that we were allowed to bring our own food (department stores and eateries nearby) and pour our own glass from the fridge — no shame in pouring that extra glass of your favourite Sake.
The selection changes every week but some of our unanimous favourites had to be the Yogurt liqueur which could dangerously be mistaken for a desert as well as the Milk sake which tasted like milk infused with cornflakes with a hint of liqueur — another dangerous bottle to indulge in. There’s also hot and draft sake on tap for variety.
Cost: S$40 (all you can drink Sake tasting session)
Address: Available at various locations — Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Asakusa, Shinjuku
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 5pm-11pm ; Saturday – Sunday 12pm – 11pm (last order 10pm)
While stripping down naked in a public bath isn’t unique to Japan, we thought we’d throw in Oedeo onsen for the amount of time you can actually end up spending here!
Not only does it have 13 different types of natural hot springs to choose from it also has a shopping arcade, where you can stroll about in your rented Yukatas, play a game, have a meal or a couple of drinks.
There’s also a resting room full of inclined chair to rest the night (top up of ¥2,106 required if you’re checking out after 2am).
Cost: S$25* (+¥2,106 for overnight stays after 2am)
*Admission fee depends on time of entry but you can purchase them at a flat rate from Klook and collect the tickets from the airport upon arrival.
Address: 2 Chome-6-3 Aomi, Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to, Japan 135-0064
Opening Hours: Public baths are open from 11am–8am (the next morning); Outdoor baths 11am–12am & 5am-8am;
Despite being called a Robot Restaurant, it isn’t quite a restaurant as it is a bar and the main stars of the show aren’t exactly robots. Regardless, the best way to experience this is to go without expectations, some alcohol (or a lot of it) and have an open mind. Much of the performance has changed over the years to cater to foreigners but is still very much described by patrons as an acid-trip. From taking your first steps up to the bar on the top floor, your senses are overwhelmed with a barrage of colours, intricate designs and mirrors that will confuse even Google maps. I shan’t reveal too much about what the actual show encompasses but I’d say go experience this one for yourself at least once.
Cost: S$75 (includes 1 free drink)
Address: 1-7-1 Kabukicho Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo, Japan
Showtimes: 5:55pm, 7:50pm and 9:45pm (doors open 40 minutes before show starts)
*Pro-tip: Come earlier to chill at the equally mesmerising bar on the top floor and catch the live band decked out in full robot attire.
Walking into a Pachinko parlour can be a little overwhelming the first time — Picture walking into dry ice (except it’s smoke), and as your vision adjusts, you see machines clinking and blinking away in an inconsistently persistent rhythm. This strange mix of an arcade and gambling den is almost perpetually filled with rows of people from all walks of life.
We managed to get a quick lesson from a friendly store manager with little English in his vocabulary — there really isn’t much to do after you’ve adjusted the single dial to it’s optimal strength. People stare into blank space as the steel balls get shot into a prime spot, while others multitask away on their phones — awaiting the indication of a Jackpot. Check one out as a bystander or part with ¥10,000 for a 40 minute game, who knows you might just be hit with some beginners’ luck.
Address: 1-23-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (multiple outlets around Japan)
*Fun fact: Since gambling is illegal in Japan, prizes have to be exchanged at a different location for actual cash.
A cemetery might be an unusual item in your travel itinerary but head to any of the tall skyscrapers in Tokyo offering panoramic views of the city and this large park-like plot of land is unmistakable. The 64 acre cemetery houses some of the famous, the wealthy and historically important people of the past — even Professor Ueono: Hachiko’s Master. Come during cherry blossom season and don’t be surprised to see groups of families having picnics in the park.
Address: 2-32-2 Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Quirky dining experiences in Tokyo
Delicious food is not hard to find in Japan. Even the convenience store bentos have some pretty good standards. Instead, look out for these eateries which may seem a little strange at first but it’s quirky ways of serving will make your meal an unforgettable one.
See also: Tokyo Famous Food Guide
This wasn’t just any 24hr chain ramen, this was without a doubt one of the tastiest bowls of ramen we had on the trip. Maybe the experience of being enclosed on your own without distractions is what heightens your senses, maybe it’s the endless possibilities of customisation — hardness of noodles, saltiness of soup, spiciness level and even the number of garlic cloves you like. Whatever it is, this is one place you’ll want to visit at least once on your trip to Tokyo. It’s a good thing this place opens 24 hours with multiple outlets around the city.
Cost: ¥890 for the basic bowl + ¥120 for soft boiled egg
Address: 14 outlets spanning across Tokyo
Opening Hours: 24 hours a day
*Pro-tip: If you’re extra hungry, save your soup and order up another serving (or 1/2 serving) of noodles without getting out of your seat!
Don’t be surprised if you order a Ryu cocktail and the staff shouts in a low, growling HADOUKENNN while serving you at the table. This street fighter/resident evil (and a couple other characters) inspired cafe has a pretty interesting menu which comes with special surprises from the staff. Not all the items will induce a reaction but we recommend the Brain cake, the Guile’s Somersault Kick and of course the Ryu cocktail. Sit back and enjoy the show. Unsurprisingly, there are also game consoles with street fighter free to play.
Address: 1-3-16 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 2pm–11:30pm; Sat – Sun 11:30am–11:30pm
@Home Maid Café
“Welcome home Master/Princess” is how you’ll be greeted once your session at the @Home cafe ensues. For the next 1 hour, the servers — not only dressed in full maid attire but also fully immersed in character — will attentively interact with you. The food and drinks here are obviously not the main appeal but the experience is uniquely Japan and definitely one that will be memorable.
These maid cafes are sprawling across the city and the queues aren’t getting any shorter. In Akihabara itself, you’ll find this cafe along with 3 other levels of different maid cafes in the same building.
Cost: ¥600 (Entry), From ¥1200 (Sets with keepsakes)
Address: Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, 千代田区外神田4 Chome−3−3, ドンキホーテ 秋葉原 店 5 階
Opening Hours: 1130am- 11pm (Weekdays), 1030am – 11pm (Weekends)
Read also: First-hand experience of @Home Maid Cafe
Accommodations in Tokyo
Book and Bed Hostel
For book lovers, I’m guessing the main draw to this place is that you’ll be surrounded by other book lovers who enjoy falling asleep to a good book as much as you. The mattresses aren’t the comfiest, nor are the pillows or the duvets but it’s an interesting place to retreat for the night. Beds are hidden behind bookshelves lining only one side of the room offering the peace and privacy many hostels don’t promise.
Address: Japan, 〒171-0021 Tokyo, Toshima, Nishiikebukuro, 1−17−7, ルミエールビル
To Book: Book and bed Tokyo
*Pro-tip: Check in for a short break in the afternoons between 1pm–5pm for ¥500/hour or ¥1,500 for the whole afternoon. The dorm beds aren’t available in the afternoon but the day beds by the window are a great spot to laze with a book too.
Wise Owl Hostel
One of the most private dorm room experiences we’ve experienced in a hostel. Beds come with thick blackout curtains, your own light as well as 2 usb plugs by the bed. But what we appreciated most was the fact that the top bunks had stairs (that also served as storage) instead of creaky ladders that wake the poor neighbour at the bottom.
Address: 3 Chome-22-9 Hatchobori, 中央区 Tokyo 104-0032, Japan
To Book: Wise Owl Hostel
Read also: Wise Owl Hostel Tokyo Review
1-3rd Residence Service apartments
If you’re travelling in a group of 4–5, it probably makes more sense to stay in one of these beautifully decorated service apartments than be separated by hotel walls. Although slightly pricier than hostels, it gives you the luxury of having your own space and almost feels like you’re returning to a home while on holiday in Tokyo. The 1-3rd Residence apartment we stayed in Yoyogi had a spacious living area decorated with simple but cosy furniture. Fun fact: It was used as a set in the popular Japanese drama せいせいするほど、愛してる.
Address: 17-25 Oyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo-to 151-0065, Japan
Cost/night: From ¥21,667
To Book: 1-3rd Residence Yoyogi
Read also: 1-3 Residence Yoyogi Review
Getting around in Tokyo
4G Pocket WiFi
Data SIM cards are really expensive in Japan! And strangely, they require the SIM card to be returned. Instead we ordered one of these handy pocket WiFi devices from the Klook App before the trip. The pick up process was really simple and we were connected to the world once again! It makes economical sense even if you’re traveling in a pair — although it connects up to 5 devices. Great for small groups traveling together. Surfing speed is incredibly quick and lasts us the entire day out while connecting to 4 devices.
Cost: S$6/day for 7Gb (Reduces to 3G speed after exceeding)
*Pro-tip: Get your device returned at the Ginza counter if you have a super early flight — the airport counter only opens from 8:30am–10pm.
Airport transfer is another item we conveniently purchased from the Klook App beforehand. The high speed Keisei skyliner shuttled us to downtown Tokyo in a mere 41 minutes. Just remember to get your tickets changed at the Skyliner information centre.
Unlimited Tokyo Metro Pass
Figuring out Japanese coins and trying to purchase train tickets before each trip can be quite stressful especially during peak hours in Tokyo. While there are rechargeable cards like the PASMO (for railway & buses) and ICOCA (for JR lines), we ended up purchasing the unlimited passes instead. These passes last from 24–72 hours and cover the Metro and Toei Subway lines. So if you’re taking a JR Line, you’ll have to purchase a separate ticket for that. We did manage to find our way around skipping the JR Lines most of the time though!
Cost: S$10, S$15, S$19 for 24, 48 and 72 hours respectively
*Can also be purchased at the Metro stations for ¥800, ¥1,200 or ¥1500
*Pro-tip: Purchase your passes from Klook and have it collected from the airport first thing when you arrive.
Fuss-free activity booking
We’re in an age where we want things quick and we want them hassle free. Especially so when on the go and in a foreign land to boot — Klook was our solution to all of that! Whether it was for airport transfers, theme park tickets or local tours, we could conveniently purchase them all from this one app.
Not only did we get cheaper deals on selected activities but saved a ton of time queuing for tickets/figuring out the booking websites — especially useful in Tokyo!
Booking your next trip via Klook? Key in “KLOOKTTI” under Promo Code to get S$5 off your first booking on the app!
Hope you found our Quirky Tokyo guide useful. Any other quirky recommendations? Let us know in the comments section below!