10 Weird and Wonderful Experiences in Japan

From cat cafes to an island of bunnies, here are some of the weirdest things to see and do in Japan that will leave you thinking WTF.


Robot Restaurant Photo © Jesse Chard

10. Cat Cafés

Cats reign supreme in Japan. With more than 50 cat cafés in Tokyo, be sure to take yourself there and get a feline for the place.

9. Islands Overrun by Cats

More than ten of Japan’s islands are inhabited by cats. That’s right, not just cafés, but islands too.

8. Maid Cafes

Japan is home to plenty of cosplay restaurants, but the maid cafés are certainly one of the weirder places to grab a bite to eat. Inside you’ll see women dressed as maids, acting as servants and performing – all while serving up a drink and something to eat.

7. Aokigahara Suicide Forest

Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and also has a very eerie destination on its coordinates. Northwest of Mount Fuji, Aokigahara Forest is a place with such a horrific history that many travelers are intrigued to see it for themselves. The forest is so dense that visitors who dare walk off the marked trails use colored ribbon to mark their way through the labyrinth of trees.

If you visit, you will see signs on various paths throughout the forest that offer messages of support to those who might be suffering through their own hardships.

6. Jigokudani Park

You thought an island overrun by cats was weird? These monkeys are living the good life, kicking back in natural hot springs… FOR FREE.

5. Zao Fox Village

Visit the cutest place on earth, Zao Fox Village, tucked away in the mountains of Miyagi Prefecture. Look at (but don’t touch) the smiling faces of wild foxes. You can buy food to feed them in the enclosed area for about ¥200.

4. Robot Restaurants

Feast your eyes (and your growling tummies) at Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant in the Kabukicho district. You’ll be welcomed by a robotic brontosaurus, see robot fights, dancing women in bikinis, machines and special effects.

3. Pachinko Parlours

Travelers are often weirded out by Japan’s overwhealming obsession with the pinball-esque pachinko machines. Thousands of people feed money into the machines each day, sitting in smokey rooms, echoing with cartoon voices and SFX.

2. An Island of Bunnies

With a population of over 125 million people, it’s baffling to see so many of Japan’s islands colonialized by furry mammals. If you’re going to Hiroshima, add Okunoshima to your list.

1. Toilets

Find your Zen on one of Japan’s infamous porcelain bowls (the toilet) and listen to the pleasant sounds of classical music.

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  • may said

    Why would you name the suicide forest as a place to experience?! So disrespectful for the families who have lost loved ones. Suicide as a tourist attraction?!? really??!?!

  • Michail Dim. Drakomathioulakis said

    I don't see it as disrespectful.

    It is a fact that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

    It's also a fact that in the Japanese culture suicide isn't necessarily perceived as something bad, which is the way that it's perceived in the West, in the Arab world, or in Israel, i.e. the cultures influenced by the Abrahamic religions.

    Seppuku (hara-kiri), for instance, was a suicide ritual for restoring one's honour.

    So, I'm not surprised that this forest has been turned into a sort of tourist attraction (which, like all tourist attractions, requires both Japanese and foreigners to accept this), and, given the cultural contradiction, I do understand why it has a place in this list of weird.

    That said, I don't think it will be a place for me to visit, at least not a priority...

  • Georg said

    You have an eye catching photo in your header (and email spam) but no caption or reference to it in the article. Guess there wasn't enough real content to get readers (cat cafe, cat island, fox island, monkey island, bunny island - okay so that's half your list) that you had to deceive people to get them to read the article. The sad truth is that you are just lazy. I was only in Tokyo two days and I can come up with a better list. I'll be blocking you now. Hope others do the same.

  • Danny Davis said

    I loved your article and am really looking forward to experiencing the weird and wonderful of Japan as soon as possible.

  • AmeliaMcGrath said

    Hi Georg,
    The lead image is actually another image from #4, the Robot Restaurant. We had so many images to choose from, we decided to use two.
    I'd love to hear some of your suggestions to include in the list, we're always looking for feedback and other ideas - especially for strange things to do in Japan!

  • Alfie Goodrich said

    Can't believe you listed the suicide forest as a tourist attraction.

    And, Michail Dim, until you understand more about Japan [and life in general] I would seriously suggest keeping your comments to yourself because you quite plainly haven't got a clue what you are talking about.

    Been living here coming up on 17 years now and it never ceases to amaze me that websites, journalists etc still keep churning out the same 'weird Japan' stories.

  • Matt said

    It's not a forest solely for suicide, people! It's a beautiful place. It just happens that the Golden Gate Bridge is the only suicide spot more prevalent in the world. And would you visit San Francisco without seeing the famous Golden Gate Bridge? Probably not.

    So while the article might have been better written, stop your whining.

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