Skip to main content

Enjoy a Whiskey and a Lizard at This Bizarre Tokyo Reptile Cafe

Cat cafes are cute and all, but they’re so 2017. Japan is now embracing a new kind of critter culture — the reptile bar and cafe scene. Lizard- and snake-centric establishments are popping up throughout the country’s biggest cities. Bar Yatonokami is one such bar with a quirky vibe that feels like a secret pet store with a liquor license.



Google MAPに『夜刀神』と入れると場所が出ます


— BAR 夜刀神-YATONOKAMI- (@yatonokami_0722) September 7, 2018

Just west of downtown Tokyo, down the well-traveled pedestrian street Renga Zaka, lies one of the capital city’s newest niche bars. Its nondescript entrance — a dim, fluorescent-lit staircase papered with hundreds of amateur photos of snakes, lizards, and other reptiles leading to an even dimmer second story bar — seems designed to maximize its mystique. The sign on the entrance, Bar Yatonokami or “夜刀の神” in kanji, translates curiously to “God of the Night Sword.” At first glance, it’s reminiscent of a hideaway for a Law & Order: SVU perp. It’s dark, weird, and oddly inviting.

Inside, the “decor” feels more like an exotic pet store than a trendy bar. Rows of commercial shelving surround the tiny space, lined with more than 100 terrariums, each home to a scaley critter or two. A basic desk serves as the makeshift bar with only the most essential liquors. You’ll find no 30-year-old Scotch or Frozen Coronaritas served here. It’s a no-nonsense space with only functional seating and lighting. Here, the reptiles are the stars of the show.





— BAR 夜刀神-YATONOKAMI- (@yatonokami_0722) December 30, 2018

Typical kitten cafes are noisy and active. In contrast, because reptiles are naturally quiet, the atmosphere at Bar Yatonokami is serene. This allows visitors to chat one-on-one with owner Nishikawa about his collection. Guests can stay as long as they like and handle any critters they choose including everything from crested geckos and bearded dragons to tarantulas and jungle snakes, but only for 30 minutes at a time to minimize stress on the animals.

Japan’s niche animal cafes — including cat cafes and more exotic establishments like the Tokyo Snake Center — have exploded in popularity in recent years. Bar Yatonokami isn’t the country’s first reptile cafe; the current list includes Kobe’s Reptile Cafe and Bar Arrive, Yokohama’s Reptile Cafe, and Osaka’s Reptile Cafe Again. But, Bar Yatonokami is unique in that it’s primarily driven by Nishikawa’s deep passion for reptiles. He hopes to break down visitors’ preconceived notions about the oft-maligned creatures, namely that they’re creepy, dirty, and less than ideal as pets. On the contrary, Nishikawa promises they’re actually quiet, relatively clean, low maintenance critters that only require food every few days.

Bar Yatonokami is open seven days a week. While the Japanese bar scene often feels insular, even downright unwelcoming, to outsiders, Nishikawa actively invites foreigners, first-time visitors, and anyone with a curiosity about the animal world. Be warned, however: you may even wind up taking one home.

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Some European airports are ditching carry on liquid rules, but will the TSA liquid limit follow?
When will these scanners be available in the U.S.?
TSA Agent

For years, airports across the world have implemented the 100 ml liquid rule, which states that liquids packed in carry-on luggage must be in containers no larger than 100 ml. In the United States, this is better known as the three-ounce (3-1-1) TSA liquid limit. These restrictions were first implemented in 2006 after terrorists attempted to bring explosives disguised as soft drinks on a transatlantic flight.

Due to new computed tomography (CT) scanners, the liquid rules are set to change at several airports across Europe, making traveling with liquids much more convenient. But how does this technology work, and how will it affect the TSA liquid rules in the United States?

Read more
There’s a new easy way to get a Southwest Airlines companion pass
You don't even need to get on a flight
Southwest Airplane

The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is now more attainable than ever. The coveted Southwest Companion Pass is a benefit offered to frequent flyers, allowing the pass holder to designate one person as their “companion,” allowing them to fly with them for free (excluding taxes and fees) on any Southwest flight. The flight can be booked with both points and cash, and the pass is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which it was earned, as well as the following calendar year.

Previously, the only way to qualify for a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass was to fly either 100 qualifying one-way flights or to earn 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. Once the companion pass is earned, it can be used an unlimited number of times during its validity period. Due to a new deal, getting a pass is currently easier than ever. From now until March 11, anyone who signs up for a new Southwest Rapid Rewards Consumer Credit Card from Chase has the opportunity to earn the Companion Pass.

Read more
5 reasons you need to invest in a Rimowa suitcase right now
Rimowa suitcase by the beach.

With a rich history of making fantastic luggage, Rimowa is one of the best luxury luggage brands around, and strongly worth your investment. Regular travelers have likely already noticed that Rimowa is the luggage to own. Its iconic design is seen everywhere across business class thanks to being built to last, offering excellent style, and providing plenty of space for everything you could need on your journey. If you’re short on time, know this much -- you need Rimowa luggage in your life. However, if you still need some convincing, read on. We’re here to highlight all the best reasons why Rimowa suitcases are worth it so you can be confident that you’re not wasting your time on inferior luggage that will need upgrading soon.

Its heritage is unparalleled

Read more