Watch your step
Upon entering Ninja Shinjuku, you’ll be immediately greeted by your gi-clad ninja host. Have no fear, however, this clan of contemporary ninjas is all smiles—stealthy intimidation has been replaced with exquisite customer service.
The foyer doubles as a gift shop. As your dining experience is being prepared, make yourself at home, and check out a plethora of unique trinkets ranging from ninja-sword scissors to ninja stars of various designs and sizes. If you ever dreamed of owning a ninja version of Hello Kitty, now’s your chance to make that a reality.
Just as you start to get comfortable shopping, a sharp voice beckons your attention. Is it another ninja hidden in the shadows? Indeed, this is no ordinary ninja. Apparently Pepper, a humanoid customer service robot, has undergone ninja training and now requests your attention before going deeper into the hideout.
Once “Ninja Pepper” finishes his speech, in true ninja fashion, the wall slides away to reveal a hidden entrance to the main dining area. Retrain your eyes on your human ninja host, and work your way through a dark, steam-filled hall.
Dining in the darkness
Once the smoke clears, you’ll be asked to remove your shoes and proceed to your private dining quarters. Get comfortable, and let the calming traditional Japanese background music wash away any anxiety you may have about being sequestered in a dark room in the middle of the world’s largest city.
When the menu arrives, you’ll have several options to choose from, including at least two that come in at under 2,000 yen (before tax). This may sound expensive at first, but food is just part of the experience. What you are actually paying for is ambiance and entertainment unlike anything that you’ve seen before.
After finishing your light dessert, you may assume that you made it through this ninja lair safe and sound. However, your dining adventure doesn’t end with your meal. Even during lunch time, you’ll be treated to a brief “ninja magic” show!
You’ll be dazzled by an interactive display of card tricks, complete with a ninja-themed deck. Thankfully the sleight of hand these contemporary ninjas use is to entertain instead of maim.
After your encounter with ninja magic, you can pay your bill and you’ll be guided out of the maze-like restaurant. In one final bout of ninja trickery, you’ll step out an entirely different door than whence you came, making you wonder if the whole experience was an illusion.
A few ninja notes
Now that you can envision your ninja experience, allow me to share a few useful notes:
- – The details in this article are based on the lunchtime dining experience. Dinner has an entirely different menu, and according to the staff, there are a lot more magic tricks and displays to experience. Get an idea for what it’s like by checking out the official website.
- – Leave your language worries at the door. There are plenty of bilingual ninjas to ensure that you have a great time (I’m afraid Ninja Pepper prefers to give his monologue in Japanese, though.)
- – Photography is not just allowed but is encouraged throughout the restaurant and gift shop. So much for ninja secrecy… That being said, photography is prohibited during the magic shows.
So, if you are looking for a fun night on the town or an amusing way to entertain visitors over lunch, consider Ninja Shinjuku. It may not be the most historically accurate depiction of ninjas, but it is certainly a fascinating way to enjoy a delicious meal.