Alcatraz ER: Inside Japan's Most Disturbing Restaurant

Tokyo’s only Alcatraz ER restaurant sits in a maze of high-rise office blocks in the bustling Shibuya district, down a quiet side street, opposite a Love Hotel. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.
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It was dark outside and I’d dragged two friends out to this Alcatraz ER restaurant as a celebratory finale to a month-long stint teaching English. When else are you going to go? After at least 20 minutes walking inanely looking for the place, a kind policeman directed us to its location and we scaled the building in a small elevator with a dingy light. We stepped out into a small reception area; grey wallpaper with blood smearings added a psycho touch. A large “TO ENTER” sign, with bars across access to a red button, was the key to enter. I pressed it.

“IRASHAIMASE” shouted a decapitated nurse as we bumbled into the restaurant. She had a look at our group held up 3 fingers saying “three?” to which we agreed and no sooner did we nod than my friend was handcuffed and we were led to our cell. We glided past symmetrically constructed jails, lit by red alarm lights showing salary men and groups of girlfriends sipping away at deadly looking cocktails. Our quarters were up a level and we stumbled in an attempt not to hit the incredibly low ceiling en route to our seats. When settled, our decapitated nurse kindly passed on some English menus and instructed us to hit the bars of our cell with some lead piping should we want her attention. She left and we opened our menus.

There were at least 20 Alcatraz ER themed cocktails on the menu. Ranging from medical milk bottles to syringes and prosthetic heads, we were spoilt for choice. Prices weren’t too bad considering the décor of the restaurant - £7 each that’s average for most normal Tokyo bars. We ordered and were informed that at 8pm there would be a “show”.  It was 5 to 8.

In life there are some things you can prepare for. This wasn’t one of them. The lights went out and a piercing siren went off. Torches came from along the corridors and then a scream running towards us. It was a man in a clown mask, dressed in a boiler suit wielding a plastic axe. He hit my leg several times with it and ran off. I was screaming madly at this point assuming there would have been a no touching policy in this place but … no. I thought it was all over but my God I was wrong.

Along came a stretcher and they dragged a Salaryman on to it, screaming. He was tied on to the wooden sides and transported to a bar table. Here our decapitated nurse brought up an object from behind the table: a dildo. By this point the Salaryman had been gagged so no screams could convey his horror, only his eyes. The nurse passed the instrument the clown who came close and undid his shirt. Slowly, he pressed the dildo up to the worker’s face all the while he was wrestling himself free. Suddenly the clown withdrew and the sirens intensified. The nurse had returned and this time was wielding a gigantic papier-mâché syringe.


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Two nurses now opened up the Salaryman’s legs and the giant syringe was repeatedly pushed against the man’s bottom. He had his trousers still on, don’t worry … but still, we were on dangerous moral territory and he was going through the motions of syringe rape. I was a bit shaken by this point. Finally a large siren went off and the normal red dingy lights came back on. It was all over.

The Salaryman was standing up laughing; punching his colleagues for the shit they put him through. The decapitated nurse was beaming and giggling inviting the guy to sit back down in his cell again. And our cocktails arrived.

Sipping out of my prosthetic head I thought I have learnt a lot about life and myself today. I thought I could take quite weird and crazy things, but evidently I have my own limits. My friend asked: “Err, where did you hear of this place?” I replied “the internet.” She nodded and we continued sipping in silence.

As we left the Alcatraz ER restaurant despite all the dildos, syringes and lead piping I felt closer to my two friends I had dragged along with me. We’d been on a journey and we’d survived. Being the liberal minded people they are, they didn’t judge my decision to end our month’s teaching work with an Alcatraz ER restaurant. Ultimately, it was a cocktail evening we’ll never forget.