A prison themed restaurant in the middle of Tokyo

In the vibrant shopping district of Shibuya – Tokyo, there is a quirky prison-themed restaurant called the Lock Up. The folks here take the prison aspect quite seriously, and make you feel that you have been sentenced to dinner in a “prison cell” for all the crazy things that you have done while in Japan. It is wild, weird and scary as CNN Travel puts it. While the food isn’t exactly fine gourmet, you cannot really expect a lot from prison food now, can you? Of course there are dishes like eyeball cocktail and roulette (mixture of wasabi and chilli exploding in your mouth). But this place is more about the ambiance, which is something of a mix between a haunted house, a traditional japanese prison cell and an abandoned movie set. Japan is good at combining experience and food, whether it is Manga Cafe’s or anime/cosplay related eateries, and the Lock Up is another example of that expertise.

lockup7

It was a bit of a challenge to actually locate this restaurant, as it is on the basement level and you have to go down the stairs when you reach the building of this restaurant. Once you are in,  you will walk through very dimly lit passages to reach the main desk.

lockup1

                                         (entrance of the restaurant)

As soon as you reach the main desk, there is a waiting area from where a host, who is dressed up as a cop, will handcuff you and walk you to your table. Making a reservation in advance is recommended.

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                            (getting handcuffed for my dinner sentence)

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                                    (my table/cell for the night)

To give the place its prison-like ambiance, the servers are all dressed up as inmates.

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                          (servers dressed like inmates)

Japan always has some neat technology and in this case, every table has a round black device which you can tap to call your waiter, in case you need anything. Given that you are in a “prison cell”, this seems like a luxury!

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                                                 (the dining table)

All refreshments and drinks ordered come in science lab equipment like test tubes, beakers, flasks, etc. This gives the restaurant the feel of a horror movie lab, where creepy experiments are performed on humans (remember Frankenstein type movies??). Quite weird and strange indeed.

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 (all refreshments/drinks come in beakers, test tubes and other lab apparatus)

The menu itself is quite interesting with pictures of various dishes presented in a “ghostly/haunted” theme.

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                                                     (food menu)

menu1

(taken from www.lock-up.jp)

menu2

(taken from www.lock-up.jp)

menu3

(food menu – taken from www.lock-up.jp)

Perhaps the most interesting and surprising part of the whole meal is the time when the restaurant shuts down all the lights in the eating area (without any warning whatsoever), and then starts playing sirens to convey that some people have escaped their prison cells. While this is happening and you are sitting in pitch black darkness with food on your silverware, people dressed up as inmates run around and act as if they have escaped, and start firing fake guns. People with glow-in-the-dark ghost masks suddenly sneak up to your “cell” and then rattle the bars and make scary sounds. All this happens for about 2-3 minutes, and then the lights come back on, the sound of the sirens stop, and everything goes back to “normal” (although nothing at this place is really normal). Alas, you have made it alive (until somebody else escapes!) to complete your dinner sentence. A truly unique experience.

lock up map

                                           (map of Shibuya area)

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Items: The Lock Up, prison themed restaurant, Shibuya (official website – in Japanese). Check out the menu here.

Price: Around ₹1766 or japanese yen 3000.

Location: 33-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya Grant Building, Basement 2 floors down, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0042

Telephone: +81 3-5728-7731 (It is a good idea to make reservations in advance)

Timings: 5 pm to 1 am Mon to Thurs, 5 pm to 4 am Fri and Sat and day before holiday, 5pm to 12 midnight on Sun and Holidays

Type: Food/Themed Restaurant

How to get there: JR Shibuya Station, then walk 5 mins north west.

Language: Mainly Japanese. You will mostly find one or two servers who speak broken English

Also visit: Hachiko Intersection to watch hundreds of people cross at once

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