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Japan's Top 10 Weirdest Must See Attractions
The Weirdest, Creepiest, and Most Eccentric Japanese Places You Just Can't Miss!
Everyone who's ever travelled knows that getting there is half the fun. If you're planning a trip to Japan, what better way to celebrate eccentricity than by visiting ten of the strangest places in the country! Whether you're looking for delicious food (served by a ninja) or historical museums (featuring atomic tuna), you'll find it all in this one-of-a-kind country famous for doing things their own (and interesting) way.
This list is in no particular order. Why? Because you should visit every place, if you can!
The Lucky Dragon and Atomic Tuna Memorial
Radioactive sushi, anyone?
What seems to be at first glance a whimsical museum is actually a serious memorial of a little-known nuclear disaster. When out fishing at sea, the Japanese ship Daigo Fukuryu Maru (the Lucky Dragon) had a little bit of a surprise. Crewmembers noticed snow falling, although it was not cold. They were enchanted by it and collected it as they worked.
Soon, one sailor died and many others became sick. They later discovered that the mysterious warm snow was nuclear fallout from an American bombing experiment. No fisherman or boats had been warned, and the entire catch of tuna held in the boat's hull became radioactive waste.
The Lucky Dragon and Atomic Tuna Memorial commemorates this little-known event. It's worthwhile to see, not only so that you can honor the fisherman who suffered, but so that you can say you saw the burial place of atomic tuna! You'll also get the chance to see the salvaged hull of the Lucky Dragon. Admission is free!
The Ramen Museum - The Holy Grail of Noodles
If you're oodles about noodles, the ramen museum is the place for you! Featuring many unique flavors of ramen from all over the country, the ramen museum is sure to have something for everyone. The museum was originally created as a place to celebrate the connoisseurs of noodles, but it has grown into a public craze applauding Japan's history and love of noodles. Prices range from 100 to 300 yen per person to get in, but you can print an online coupon and get a discount.
Here's the coupon for all you noodle fanatics - http://www.raumen.co.jp/ramen/so_froms.html
Also, there are a lot of really cool cookbooks that have recipes which use regular ramen noodles that you can buy easily to create fancy meals!
Alcatraz ER Restaurant
I always wanted to drink a margarita out of a cup shaped like someone's brain...
Looking for some delicious food during your trip through Japan? Why not stop at Alcatraz ER - the restaurant dedicated to everything grotesque, creepy, and otherwise horror-ish. You want a margarita? You got it - if you can drink it out of a cup shaped like someone's brain (very realistic, if I might add). If you can't stomach that, maybe you'll be okay with drinking your beverage out of a giant syringe (no needle attached, of course!). While you enjoy your meal - inside a prison cell - you can feel free to watch one of Alcatraz's shows (currently featuring ER surgery and inmate escapes!). If you're looking for an experience unlike any other, why aren't you at Alcatraz ER?
The prices are high, all things considered, although many people are willing to shell out the yen for the experience. Around 1,000 yen is common in Alcatraz, because you don't order a dish for yourself, you order a large dish and the entire table shares. With enough people, food and drinks are all-you-can-eat for 100 minutes.
Ukai - That's cormorant fishing, for my non-Japanese-speaking readers
Whether you're a wildlife freak or just someone who enjoys a good show, watching ukai is a great way to brighten your day and excite you. Ukai is a type of Japanese fishing in which a fisherman fans fire over the water. It is said that fish are attracted to the bright fire, and they swarm around his boat. Then, using a cormorant (a type of aquatic bird), the fisherman catches the fish.
Or, rather, the cormorant catches the fish and gives them to the fisherman.
Sound cool? It is. Ukai usually begins at around 7:30, and you can have the opportunity to watch the master fishers at their work with their lovely birds. I guarantee you haven't seen anything like ukai!
On Sundays only!
During the week, Yoyogi Park is just your average inner-city spot of green. When Sunday rolls around, however, things can get pretty crazy! Every Sunday, Yoyogi plays host to large numbers of groups in all shapes and sizes. From cosplayers and bands to a strange group of Japanese people who dress like Americans and dance to really loud music, you'll find it all in Yoyogi.
Have you ever been to a park where people practice with lightsabers or tapdance just for fun? You'll find theatre groups rehearsing, bands playing, and people standing around asking for hugs. No joke, this place is wild. But unlike some of the other locations in the Top 10, it's not the location itself but the people who make Yoyogi Park worthwhile. Admission is free.
Books on Japan
Aokigahara - The suicide forest
Aokigahara is a ghost-hunter's paradise. Also known as the Suicide Forest, Aokigahara is the second most popular place in the world to commit suicide (the first being the Golden Gate Bridge). The record for suicides in Aokigahara was set in 2002, when 78 people ended their lives in the forest.
Typically, there are three types of people who visit Aokigahara. The first are those who are enjoying the scenic, forest view. The second is probably you - someone who wants to "test" the forest and see if they come out alive! The third are those who don't plan to come out; for these people, wardens have set up signs on trees saying things like, "Please don't kill yourself" and "Your life is a precious gift from your parents."
Only the bravest travellers dare to venture into Aokigahara. Even better, compasses don't work inside the forest due to the large iron deposits under the trees.
Explore...if you dare.
The Ninja Restaurant
Do the waiters carry shurikens?
After wandering through a mysterious pathway leading to an old, bamboo house, you can take a seat at your table in the ninja restaurant. When you're ready, press a button underneath the table to summon your ninja waiter, who will speedily sprint to your table, shouting awesome ninja-ish stuff and finally saluting you in the traditional ninja way. Don't be afraid - take the scroll from him. It's just your menu. And that's only the beginning of the experience when you choose to dine with ninjas!
You can watch some magic tricks and other fun things while you eat, and if you ever need help, you can refer to your scroll-menu, which suggests that you "ask a ninja." Be careful not to insult the cook, though. We know how trigger-happy ninjas can get with their shurikens....
Public Onsens - Legal skinny-dipping
For you brave travellers, I suggest you go to an onsen - they can be found almost anywhere and are sure to test your resolve! An onsen - also known as a public bath - is a very common way to relax in the land of the rising sun. So shed any inhibitions you have about public nudity and hop in!
Onsens vary greatly in Japan; some are piping hot, some are freezing, and some are even electric. You'll want to know what you're getting into before you get there.
On another note - onsens are not actually for bathing. You do the cleaning before you get in, in a small shower that sometimes only comes chest-high. So, rest assured that when you get in the onsen, everyone else is clean!
Many travellers choose not to participate in the onsen experience because it could be embarrassing and they don't know the "rules." But why miss out on the chance of a lifetime to skinny dip and get away with it!
Ice Cream City
Your one-stop-shop for goat flavored dessert.
If you're interested in the best ice cream in town, Ice Cream City is for you. But don't expect to order chocolate or vanilla scoops when you get there - you're choices are more like wasabi, soy sauce, and rice flavors.
Don't let that throw you off, though! If America can get away with vomit-flavored jelly beans, Japan should have no problem selling cactus-flavored dessert. Regardless of whether you think you'll enjoy ox-tongue ice cream, Ice Cream City is a definite must in any person's Japan itinerary.
Other flavors include fish, fried eggplant, crab, corn, goat, whale, and garlic. Oh, and don' forget everyone's favorite flavor - raw horseflesh. No joke.
Kagaya - Where men in frog suits reside
Kagaya is, by far, THE weirdest bar in Japan. If you've ever wished that your bartender would jump around dressed like a frog and screaming, Kagaya is your kind of place. You can order after watching a puppet show detailing the menu, but beware! The drinks you get are rigged. Some glasses will shake and vibrate when lifted, and others will moo at you.
Later, you'll see everything from table football to monkey costumes. I'm sure the show begins to make more sense in proportion to the amout of alcohol you drink, so Kagaya is surely not for the faint of heart! Kick back and relax - the bartender's making himself look like a maniacal lunatic for you. Enjoy it.
Have We Lost It?
Has the world lost a touch of its quirkiness that only Japan seems to retain? Many people think so. It's common for people to think that Japan is one of the last places in the world where such unique, colorful culture continues to be celebrated with an apparent disregard for people-pleasing, public image, and what people consider "normal." What do you think?
Is Japan one of the last countries to truly still stick to its unique culture, even in the face of a global world defining what is "acceptable?"