Daniel Robson drinks at the Monster Bar...
Daikaiju Salon, in Tokyo hotspot Nakano, is the barmy brainchild of director and screenwriter Takao Nakano, the guy behind such sexploitation movies as Big Tits Zombie and Killer Pussy. His bar is a paean to all things 50-feet tall and rubbery, the sort of B-movie monsters that would scrap with Godzilla and eat King Kong for brunch. Open only on Wednesdays, it’s a haven for monster-movie fans and a place for Nakano to show off his impressive collection of toys, outfits and autographs.
But first things first: Let’s order a drink. Nakano himself hands over the menu, which includes special “kaijuice” cocktails (“kaiju” means “monster”) made from melon soda, yuzu juice, pink ginger ale and so on with a dash of rum or some other spirit and featuring a muddler topped with a goofy toy monster stuck on the end; a beer float designed to look like some sort of wretched swamp; or, you know, just a coffee.
There’s food, too. The kaiju ramen is served with “magma sauce” (a delicious Thai-style spicy meat relish), topped with broccoli florets, potato chunks, a hard-boiled egg and wieners cut into the shape of tiny giant octopi. The ice cream, meanwhile, comes topped with specially made chocolate monster cookies. Food and drink items start at just 500 yen (£4).
Lining the shelves and perched on every surface are Japanese toy monsters and superheroes of all shapes and sizes – some old or new classics (from Ultraman to Sea Blob) and others handmade by Daikaiju Salon’s regular customers. Nakano’s wingman, Pico Pico, makes professional-looking B-movie monster heads, which are dotted around the bar and available to try on.
Before you know it, Nakano is squishing your head into a sweaty sponge-rubber mask and fitting your arm with a giant blue claw before leading you outside for a monster battle with Mucho, the bar’s mascot; this leviathan-lady costume is propped outside the entrance, but occasionally comes to life to harass the customers and pose for photos.
Nakano’s other pastime is organising regular live “catfight” events such as Department H, where women dress as heroine hussies or tentacle tarts and wrestle for an audience of fetishists, usually exposing some beastly breast in the process. Well, what else would you expect from the director of ExorSister? Photos from these events are displayed in photo books that Nakano will thrust proudly into your hands.
Despite Daikaiju Salon’s hentai heritage, it’s actually good clean fun, and in the daytime local children head over to make their own monsters from Plasticine. This is in keeping with Nakano’s original aim: “These days, kids prefer superheroes to monsters,” he tells me, “so I started this bar as a way to make monsters popular again.
With its intimate atmosphere – stoked by a YouTube wall bursting with French pop, classic J-pop and homemade creature flicks – this tiny bar is a great place to meet like-minded monster maniacs and indeed Nakano himself. Just don’t be tempted to go on a rampage around Tokyo after you leave: You’re not really taller than a skyscraper, you know.