As the East leaves its spookiest season of the Ghost Month behind, nights of wandering dead are just beginning for the West. Whether Dia de Los Muertos or All Hallow’s Eve, the darkening autumn nights are a time to indulge in ideas of the supernatural. In Japan, residents get a double whammy, with both the traditional Eastern and Western haunted holidays celebrated one month after the other. It’s no surprise, then, that the country is home to some of the most chilling horror films out there! A cultural leader in the artistic and the macabre, Japan is a top spot for celebrating this Halloween. Don’t believe us? Their horror-themed bars and restaurants should change your mind.
For fans of all things unsettling, Japan has the dinner-date for you. From the hammy to the downright dark, everyone’s tastes are catered for – just make sure you can stomach it!
Given this ghostly time of year, you might be tempted to brave the Yurei Izakaya restaurant. Yureis are Japanese spirits, much like Western ghosts, that are said to haunt the Earth if they suffered tragic or violent deaths. These ghosts are often vengeful, violent or distraught – they’re certainly not a natural choice for a waitress! Yet that’s exactly who will serve you at this unique spot; the Yurei’s waiting staff wear white burial kimonos, gliding through the fog-filled room amongst the skeletons and statues that loom mournfully in the gloom. These waitresses will even regale you with the stories of how they ‘died’. With horror music playing throughout, creepy voodoo inspired dishes and even booby traps out to get you on the staircase, it’s a dinner not to be braved by the faint of heart.
If ghosts aren’t your thing, Japan is, unsurprisingly, more than happy to cater to the vampire crowd! In Tokyo’s Vampire Café, deep red walls house a dimly lit, baroque setting; the décor is somewhere between camp and classically sinister (as all good vampires are), with miniature skulls and fake spiders thrown in alongside grandiose candelabras flickering atop coffins. The Asian restaurant takes on French and Italian cuisine to bring that traditional European feel to the vampiric experience, and pale-faced, Gothically dressed maids and footmen are naturally ever-ready to serve their patrons a variety of blood-red drinks.
However, perhaps the oddest fixation of Japan’s freakish food sector is the ‘horror prison’, or odder still, the ‘horror prison hospital’. The Lockup and Alcatraz are just two popular haunts (get it?) in this bizarre and not all-together PC theme, where patrons are literally shut in prison cells and even handcuffed and tormented by the restaurant staff, who are dressed and perform as a selection of terrifying inmates and titillating ‘evil nurses’. Are these restaurants, you might ask, or a horrortastic S&M club? This restaurant is taking visitors’ experience to the next level, but don’t worry – you may be handcuffed, but there’s bound to be a nurse on hand ready to feed you from test tubes, syringes and blood bags. At Alcatraz, you can even order a ‘Slap Shot’ if you want that extra sting of punishment with your beverage. Bon appetite!