The Lockup: Japan’s Prison Themed Bar

the lockup izakaya

I’m a big fan of comedy and adventure. Something lighthearted. I get anxiety and stress overthinking things in horror movies.  I also startle easily especially while I have a beverage in hand.  Watching a scary movie or going to a haunted house is way out of my comfort zone.  I avoid those situations at all costs.  But somehow we ended up at this horror/prison themed bar.


First of all, this was misleading.  I was informed that it would be a women’s prison bar.  My imagination went in the opposite direction of what the bar really was.  I was thinking it would be seductively dressed Japanese woman acting out a fantasy.  This is what happened:

The bar is located on the 15th floor of a mall in the back area.  No foot traffic from the other places in the mall.  If you were walking by, you were there for the Lockup.  As we’re walking towards the entrance, it already seemed Halloween themed.  Not prison themed.  Okay, let’s see where this is going.  We walk up to the front and all the information is in Japanese.  Luckily, we have a Japanese local with us.  


To get in, we have to ring the bell.  The group gives me the honors of ringing the doorbell and a moment later a Japanese girl (early 20’s) dressed as a sexy police officer comes through the door and greets us.  Just a heads up, this place did not speak any English.  Even if you said something that was in Japanese with an English accent, there would just be more confusion.  Back to the story, she leads us through the entrance and into a small room.  She gives us really long instructions in Japanese that my friend doesn’t translate which makes me slightly worried.  In the small room is a person sized zombie figure, a person sized standing locker and other Halloween decorations.  The lights go off and scary music starts playing.  A bunch of dialog in a spooky Japanese voice begins and the lights flash on/off.  Sirens are blaring and this goes on for about 5 minutes.  The whole time I’m on high alert that someone is going to try and surprise us so I’m constantly scanning the room for movement or any changes.  Nothing happened.  The lights turn on and the door opens.  I’m full of anxiety.  


The cop girl comes back to greet us and asks us in Japanese who is the bad person in the group.  My two friends point to me and I obviously don’t point at me.  We argue over who it should be when she just handcuffs one of us and brings us to the table.  

Once we get to the table, she takes the handcuffs off.  What the hell?  We made way too big of a deal who the bad person of the group was.  Trying to decide for 2 minutes while our walk to the table was 10 seconds.  After taking a look at the menu we realize it’s more Halloween themed than Prison themed.  We order food and drinks.  The drinks were okay and the food wasn’t that great.  The waitresses were dressed as prisoners, but not in a seductive way.

As other patrons of the restaurant entered the bar, they went through the same situation as we could hear the soundtrack of events happening again and again.  More soundproofing needed or turn the volume down a little…or both.


The menu was limited to specialty drinks, beer and snack food.  It’s an izakaya and not a full on restaurant.  One of the interesting things we ordered was a 5-piece takoyaki dish.  The twist was one of the five takoyaki was super spicy.  It was a Russian roulette food game. I like gambling (but have stopped because I have a problem) and this felt like a fun gamble.

I ended up with the spicy takoyaki.  My nose started running and I was having trouble speaking.  My tolerance for spicy food isn’t very high.  I summoned the waitress (there’s a button on the table to call for service) and asked for water for the table in Japanese.  My Japanese friend feeds me the lines and I say it like a parrot that has a short-term memory.  The waitress came back with one glass of water.  I was dying.

Once I got my sense of taste back, I regretted it because the food wasn’t that good.  We requested the check but then were informed that the show was going to start in 20 minutes.  So we ordered a large beer served in a test tube.


The show started an all the lights went off.  A siren started ringing, smoke machines were blasting and a Japanese voice was playing loudly warning us of something.  A bunch of people in scary costumes started running around the restaurant trying to scare people.  They got us pretty good a few times.  While sitting with my back to a window and then I noticed my two friends got really scared and were looking at the window behind me.  I took that as a sign not to look.  I took a sip of beer.  The threat started patting me on my shoulder to turn around. I just shook my head and refused to turn around.

This went on for about 15 minutes and then gunshots started being fired.  We saw the girl dressed as a police officer run by shooting the monsters.  She came by to our table to inform us that she’s taking care of the threat.  After 5 minutes all threats were eliminated and the world was at peace.

A Birthday

A moment later they played a 5 minute birthday song for a group celebrating a birthday.  Birthday songs should only be 30 seconds at the most.  We hung around for awhile to finish our drinks but made it a point to get out as soon as possible.  Since they do shows every hour on the hour, I could not sit through another one of those.

To leave, we had to press the call button and a prisoner escorted us out.  It was a 10 second walk to the cashier to pay our meal.  Overall, a good one time experience as an interactive haunted house izakaya (that’s what I’d call it at least).  The food wasn’t that good so definitely eat something good before you go.


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The Lockup: Japan’s Prison Themed Bar

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