7 weird things to do in Tokyo
1. Have a hoot at an owl cafe
With more than 100 cat cafes now operating in the capital city, Tokyoites who have had their fill of free-roaming felines are turning their attention to feathered friends. If you want a side of tawny owl with your cup of tea, then Fukuro no Mise is the place for you. Take the subway to Tsukishima station (about 40 minutes from Shinjuku) and you’ll find yourself surrounded by these majestic nocturnal creatures in no time.
2. Find out your fortune
Want to know what the future has in store for you? Then head to the nearest Shinto or Buddhist shrine and grab an omikuji – a randomly assigned piece of paper that tells your fortune. But be warned – Asakusa’s Senso-ji temple is breathtaking, but it has a reputation of giving out unreliable fortunes. Instead, try your luck at the spooky dragon slot machine at Kiyomizu Kannon-do temple in Ueno Park. Drop in your coins and the creature will perform a mesmerising dance before dispensing your fortune – once you’ve read it, make like the locals and tie it to the nearest tree.
Yasufumi Nishi/Japan National Tourism Organization
3. Try out your vocals
Forget booking a booth at your local karaoke club and go all out Japan-style at one of Lovenet’s 25 themed suites. Situated among the jazz clubs of evening entertainment district Roppongi, walking into one of the rooms is like entering another world – from cloud-filled Heaven Suite and exotic Morocco Suite to the Aqua Suite, fitted with a huge Jacuzzi (remember to pack your swimming costume).
4. Strike it rich at Pachinko
A cross between pinball and slot machines, you’ll know when you’ve stumbled on a Pachinko parlour thanks to the crashing sound of metal balls cascading through a series of pins. With absolutely no skill involved and the potential to redeem winning tickets for cash, it’s no wonder Pachinko is a favourite after-work pursuit.
5. Make friends with a robot
Leave the robot restaurants to the tourists and instead get up close to some of the world’s most cutting-edge technology and a host of quirky interactive exhibits at Miraikan (the National Museum of Engineering Science & Innovation). Climb into a submarine that can reach depths of 6500 metres and view the world from the deep sea, then explore the outer limits of space in a simulator, before petting Paro the robot seal.
6. Become a noodle know-all
The country virtually runs on ramen, so when you’ve had enough of buying bowls of noodles via vending machines, it’s time to turn your attention to making them. Visitors to the Cup Noodles Museum can learn more about the evolution of the simple snack before creating their own instant ramen to take home with them. For a slightly more gourmet learning experience, take a four-hour class at Tsukiji Soba Academy and master the art of making the delicious thin buckwheat-flour noodle.
7. Have an extreme makeover
From obscure ingredients – like seaweed and silkworm cocoons – to 10-step skincare routines, the Japanese take beauty very seriously. And nowhere is this more obvious than at Shiseido’s super-slick flagship store. Sit among interactive digital mirrors to see make-up being virtually applied to your face or book a high-tech skin diagnosis. Like many department stores in the city, the shop has some sumptuous stations where time-poor locals can get ready for a night out. And, once you’re done primping and preening, there’s an onsite photo studio to catch you looking your best. Situated in fashion-forward Ginza, stay at the Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel and simply nip back to your room to change outfits before heading out for the evening.
For more travel ideas that are out of the ordinary, view them here.