There are countless weird and wacky things to do in Tokyo. Everyone’s Tokyo bucket list should include something uniquely Tokyo, something you can’t experience anywhere else in the world. Luckily, Japan’s lively capital city is filled with activities that are sure to entertain you.
Take a break from the serious cultural and historical excursions during your Tokyo Itinerary and check out some weird and unique things to do in Tokyo! I guarantee by the end of this list you’ll be shaking your head saying, “Only in Japan.”
20 Weird and Unique Things To Do In Tokyo
1. Real Life Mario Kart
First-timers to Tokyo might be thoroughly surprised when they see Mario, Peach, Yoshi and the crew zooming by on real-life Mario Karts. The locals won’t even blink an eye. Tokyo’s streets are no stranger to go-carts, and in fact, it’s one of the best ways to see the many highlights of Tokyo. Get your international driver’s license before you come to Tokyo, so you can take part in this incredible weird thing to do in Tokyo.
If you have a bit of need for speed, take the Akihabara go-karting tour, which takes you over the Rainbow Bridge and you can hit speeds up to 60 km/hr! (It feels faster when you’re exposed to the elements)
Reserve the Shinjuku Tour if location-wise that’s the best for you.
Note: Throwing banana peels and turtle shells are not allowed, even though it’s weird Tokyo.
2. Visit a Maid Cafe
Maid Cafes were first started in Japan to cater to otaku, young (usually) men obsessed with manga and anime who wanted to see a cosplay of their favorite female characters. This gradually evolved into a whole maid cafe culture, and now there are hundreds across Japan. This is undoubtedly a weird thing to do in Tokyo.
Akihabara, or the manga/electronics center of Tokyo, is the neighborhood most famous for maid cafes (and otaku too). If you want to experience this weird thing to do in Tokyo, I recommend booking a family-friendly Akihabara maid cafe in advance. Akihabara is home to some seedy maid cafes too.
3. Visit the Robot Restaurant
~2021 Update: This quirky restaurant has closed indefinitely~
One of the most over-the-top, weirdest Tokyo experiences has to be dining at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. This weird and unique thing to do in Tokyo is wildly popular and actually hardly a restaurant. It’s an assault on all your senses as flashy dancers and robots, echoing drums, neon props, and laser beams fill the stage in front of you.
Visitors have described this as “life-changing”, or so strange it was “like a dream.” No matter what, this weird Tokyo attraction will make you think, “yes, this is Tokyo.”
Usually over $70 USD for a seat, reserve seats through Klook to get a huge discount!
4. Visit Gotokuji Temple
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path but still weird place in Tokyo, head to Setagaya. This neighborhood in Southwestern Tokyo is home to Gotokuji Temple, a Buddhist Temple home to thousands of beckoning cat statues. This is a family-friendly and more calm, weird thing to do in Tokyo.
Maneki-Neko, as they are called in Japanese, are often placed in front of businesses and stores to beckon customers in. If you purchase one at Gotokuji Temple and leave it here, it is said to bring in more customers and bring success to your business.
You can purchase a maneki-neko for as little as ¥300 ($2.70 USD) for a teeny-tiny one, or as much as ¥5000 ($47 USD) for the largest size.
5. Eat Pufferfish - a meal that could kill you!
If you don’t know this already, fugu, or pufferfish, contains enough poison in its one puffy body to kill eight humans! Despite the possibility of death, one of the weird things in Tokyo is that fugu is treated as a delicacy. Over 10,000 tons of it are consumed here each year. Chefs are required to train for years, and pass a national written and practical exam before they are allowed to prepare are serve fugu to customers.
Enjoy fugu at Guenpin Fugu, one of Tokyo’s most popular pufferfish restaurants. Reserve a table and meal through Klook to and yourself to a traditional Japanese meal… and hopefully walk away with your life.
Read more about eating pufferfish in the Food & Wine Article, “How to Eat Pufferfish and Not Die.”
Looking for non-weird and wacky things to do in Tokyo? Here are some more ideas:
- Read up on my Tokyo itinerary – The Perfect Three Days in Tokyo Itinerary
- Check out the highlights – Top 15 Things To Do In Tokyo
- Learn where to escape the crowds – Off-The-Beaten-Path Places In Tokyo
- Get out of the city for a day – Best Day Trips From Tokyo
- Gain some elevation over Tokyo – Six Amazing Tokyo Viewpoints
6. Eat at Kawaii Monster Cafe
~2021 Update: This quirky Tokyo cafe has closed indefinitely~
Another quirky dining experience that deserves a spot on the weird things to do in Tokyo list is the Kawaii Monster Cafe. Recently visited by Netflix’s Queer Eye cast while filming in Japan, this cafe serves you rainbow, monster-themed foods and drinks in an out-of-this world setting.
There’s no flashy show here, except the kawaii waiters and waitresses who are dressed up as dazzling monsters themselves. The real treat is wandering around the cafe itself, which is monsters and eyeballs and weird things and COLOR in every nook and cranny.
You can also make an all-you-can-drink reservation for their special Go-Go Friday/Drag nights, complete with pole dancing monsters. On these nights the cafe transforms into definitely one of the weirdest places in Tokyo (for adults 20+ years only).
7. Eat fast-food burgers with rice buns
That’s right – rice buns! At Mos Burger, which is the Japanese answer to McDonald’s, there are two burgers that have rice patties for buns instead of bread or lettuce. This ain’t your average Big Mac!
Mos Burger is a must-visit Tokyo restaurant that has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. It’s a great place to get a fast-food fix, but because it has smaller portion sizes than Western fast food chains, it won’t make you feel sluggish for the rest of the day.
At the time of writing, the two rice-patty burgers available from Mos Burger are a seafood medley burger and a chicken teriyaki burger. Check Mos Burger’s entire drool-worthy menu here.
8. Eat Rainbow Food in Harajuku
No, I’m not talking about the monster restaurant. I’m talking about street food – rainbow cotton candy, rainbow grilled cheese, and rainbow ice cream!
Visiting Takeshita Street should be on everyone’s Tokyo itinerary. Part of the charm of this kawaii neighborhood is discovering the colorful food that it offers. Classic weird Tokyo.
Check out Le Shiner for unicorn-themed foods, including unicorn-shaped ice cream and rainbow grilled cheese. Totti Candy Factory is famous for its picture-perfect, massive rainbow cotton candy. You’ll definitely need a friend to help you finish these.
Don’t forget to take an Instagram picture and show all your friends at home the weird things to do in Tokyo!
9. Check out Tokyo Station's Character Street
On the B1 floor of Tokyo Station is a whole street filled with shops that highlight one special character or show.
Find Studio Ghibli, Pokemon, Crayon Shinchan, Dragonball, Miffy, and more at Tokyo Station’s Character Street! It’s a perfect place to get some souvenir shopping done, because there are gifts you can find here that you’d be pressed to find anywhere else, especially outside of Japan.
It’s a favorite place for kids to visit, because of the characters but also for large stores like Lego and Tomicar, the Japanese version of Hotwheels.
10. Visit the Yayoi Kusama Museum
Yayoi Kusama is one of Japan’s most well-known artists. Her quirky style and unapologetic fashion sense makes her a weird and wonderful Tokyo icon. Yayoi’s most popular works are her polka-dot pumpkins, which you won’t be able to get enough of in this museum!
Book tickets in advance here. No tickets are sold at the door, and entry is limited to 90 minutes.
If you want to see more of Yayoi, consider visiting Naoshima, home to her massive polka-dot yellow pumpkin statue.
11. Visit the Crappy Unko (Poop) Museum Tokyo
I don’t think I need to explain why this is on the weird things to do in Tokyo list. A museum dedicated to the cuteness of poop? Only in Japan. A permanent poop museum opened in Tokyo in August, 2019, after its brother museum in Yokohama saw so much success.
Here are some quotes from the website to get you hyped up about visiting this weird place in Tokyo:
- “Take pictures of various poops like the surreal flying poop and colorful shiny poop”
- About interactive rooms: “Games using your body such as stepping on poop projected onto the floor”
- About their arcade games: “Getting a high score will be more satisfying than taking a big dump!”
12. Shop at Mega Don Quijote, Shibuya
Another place to have your senses assaulted on this weird things to do in Tokyo list. Don Quijote, or Donki, is a hyperstore chain that took Japan by storm with its one-stop-shop magic. Think Target meets Costco meets Tokyu Hands. Floor to ceiling shelves are overflowing will all sorts of crap that you never thought you needed. There are plenty of little screens shouting advertisements at you too.
The Donki in Shibuya is the biggest and baddest. Looking for candy, booze, board games, sex toys, costumes, household goods, or all of the above? Come to Don Quijote.
But actually, it’s a great place to shop for souvenirs. It has a large Japanese souvenir section on one of the top floors, and its first floor has many different matcha tea and flavored Kit-Kat souvenirs.
13. Have a soak at Oedo Onsen Monogatari
~2021 Update: Oedo Onsen has closed indefinitely~
Ready to let it all hang out in front of friends, family, and strangers? Head to Odaiba, home to Oedo Onsen Monogatari (and Teamlab Borderless) . This onsen, or nude hot springs, theme park is decorated to feel like Edo Tokyo. It’s a great place to experience how Japanese have relaxed and rejuvenated for centuries.
With your entry ticket you get a beautiful yukata to wear around. There’s a dining area with a great selection of traditional Japanese foods, and a place where you can try your hand at traditional Japanese festival games too.
The hot springs part? Besides the outdoor footbath, you have to go in completely nude in rooms divided by gender.
Note: No tattoos are allowed at Oedo Onsen.
14. Take Purikura Photo Booth Pictures
Wildly popular with the local girls, purikura is a fun activity for friends and family. You’ll have a nice souvenir to bring home from Japan too. Each session costs ¥400 yen ($3.70 USD).
There aren’t your ordinary strip mall photo booths. You can decorate them with stamps and stickers before they’re printed, and the weird Tokyo part – they can make you look skinny and make your eyes look extra big!
Instructions for most purikura are Japanese, but all you have to do is pick settings like which frame color you want and photo exposure levels. Input your email address into the machines so you can get a digital copy of the photos sent to you!
15. Dress Up And Sing Karaoke
The Japanese love their karaoke. Walking around any neighborhood, especially close to the train stations, you’re bound to see “KARAOKE” or “カラオケ” lit up across the buildings.
Going to karaoke is easy. Choose how many hours you want to sing for, and if you want to include all-you-can-drink options (not available at all stores). Expect to pay around ¥2,500 yen ($23 USD) per person, for two hours of karaoke plus all-you-can-drink beers and soft drinks.
Many karaoke joints have free musical maracas and tambourines to smash while someone is singing – some even have costumes you can wear!
16. Enroll in Ninja Training
I’m not the only one who wanted to grow up to be a ninja, right? Relive your childhood dreams by going through ninja training, a weird thing to do in Tokyo.
Activities include shooting shuriken ninja stars, practicing shooting a blow dart, and touring around historic Asakusa. All while wearing the most fashionable of ninja outfits.
Read more about it on Klook.
17. Shop Fake Food
First-time visitors to Tokyo will notice a weird phenomenon: Many Japanese restaurants have a display case out front filled with food. They’re all fake versions of what the restaurant serves inside. If you’ve ever wondered where storefronts purchase these fake food models, head to Kappabashi-dori, the Kitchen Goods street near Asakusa.
Ganso Sample-ya is example of one of these shops. Find amazingly weird Tokyo souvenirs including phone cases covered in different Japanese foods (shown below), sushi-shaped key chains, magnets, and more.
Own a Japanese restaurant in your home country? You can pick up real-life sizes of (fake) Japanese staple foods here too, including ramen, udon, tempura, and omurice.
18. Visit Hello Kitty Land
Did you even visit Japan if you don’t have a something Hello Kitty-related to prove it?
Visit some of Japan’s most famous characters at Sanrio Puriland. Take pictures with Hello Kitty and My Melody, watch performances by your favorite characters, and take home plenty of souvenirs from the gift shop.
Book through Klook to get discounted tickets for Sanrio Puriland.
If you love Hello Kitty but don’t have time to visit a theme park, check out one of many Sanrio Cafes across Tokyo.
19. Meet Godzilla
Did you know Shinjuku is the new home to the king of monsters, Godzilla? Check him out peeping over the top of the Toho movie complex in the heart of Shinjuku.
If you dare, enter through the connecting Hotel Gracery to visit Godzilla at head-level. He lights up, roars, and spews steam at the top of every hour!
20. Visit an (Ethical) Animal Cafe
Sipping on lattes while patting furry (or spiky, or slithery) friends has been a growing trend in Japan. Animal Cafes allow you to interact with different animals while enjoying a drink and a meal, giving off a classy petting zoo feeling. Animals featured in Animal Cafes across Tokyo include dogs, cats, hedgehogs, owls, otters… even meerkats and lizards!
In order to make your visit an ethical one, I recommend doing your research before you choose which cafe to visit. At the top of my list of animal cafes to NEVER visit are own cafes, where the poor birds are chained up under blaring lights all day.
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Are You Prepared For Your Trip To Japan?
- Book Your Flights – To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is key. I use both Google Flights for their low fare calendar, and Skiplagged, which uses airfare loopholes to get the lowest prices. For a trip to Japan, check flights to both Tokyo airports (Haneda, Narita) and to Osaka (Kansai).
- Getting Around Japan: Prepare your JR Pass and Suica transit card before you depart.
- Book Your Accommodation – Check out Booking.com for the largest selection of accommodation in Japan.
- Book Local Excursions – Don’t miss out on world-class experiences, like Teamlab Borderless or Tokyo Disneyland, by booking tickets online now. Check GetYourGuide and Voyagin for fun experiences all around Japan.
- Stay Connected: Order a pocket WiFi for airport pickup if you’re traveling with family or with a large group. Solo traveling to Japan? Order a SIM card just for you.
- Buy Travel Insurance – It’s better to protect yourself from mishaps when traveling. Get a quote from World Nomads to see how much it’ll cost to get you covered!
- Pack Your Essentials – Check out my posts about Long Term Travel Gear, and Carry-On Luggage Packing Essentials.
- Read more on my Travel Resources page!