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When you want to blow off steam, there’s nothing like blowing something away, which partly explains why Japan’s interest in airsoft guns, which fire BB-like ammunition, continues to grow. But even though work is a major source of stress, most people don’t have the time to drive out to one of Japan’s rural airsoft fields (or catch a plane to the awesome urban set-up in Korea) after their shift ends.

Thankfully, though, there’s a way for Japanese professionals who’ve had a rough day at the office to fire off a couple rounds without putting a hole in their living room wall, as we found out at a Tokyo restaurant with its own airsoft shooting range.

When our Japanese-language correspondent Taranoko told us she’d planned a girls’ night out in the posh neighborhood of Kichijoji, we thought maybe she and her friends would be hitting up one of the area’s dainty cake shops, or maybe having a quiet dinner at one of the little cafes on the edge of nearby Inokashira Park.

Instead, the group of gals hit up a restaurant called EA, which is pronounced “Air,” as in “airsoft,” to knock back a few drinks and bust a few caps.

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Just five minutes’ walk from Kichijoji Station, EA’s location makes it easy to swing by if you’re looking for something different than the run-of-the-mill Japanese-style pub. There’s more than model firearms and hard liquor on offer, too, as EA’s kitchen serves up pasta, risotto, and curry dishes.

▼ Which come decorated with plastic army men

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▼ Never before has trench warfare been so delicious.

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Don’t worry if you don’t own any combat fatigues, since EA’s chicly subdued interior means you’re more likely to blend dressed in smart casual clothing than a set of cammies.

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The theme extends to EA’s cocktails, which are named after guns. Diners can choose from the vodka-based Thompson, chocolate-liqueur Glock 18c, or SPAS12, with absinthe.

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While you’re welcome to bring in your own airsoft gun, EA also has a selection of guns that’s as impressive as its lengthy cocktail list. The models available for customers to use are all fashioned after real life weapons.

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Since gun control regulations are incredibly strict in Japan, most of the restaurant’s patrons don’t have much in the way of first-hands firearms experience. On the other hand, Japan does produce plenty of gun-laden animation and video games, so to help first-timers choose their piece, there’s a “gun menu” which lists which fictional characters from anime, games, and even Hollywood movies have used each.

▼ For example, if you’re on the fence about the Mac 11, you might want to know that Dragon Ball’s Bulma has been known to pack one, and that it also appears in Cowboy Bebop, and Die Hard with a Vengeance.

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▼ The SPAS12, meanwhile, is recommended for fans of The Terminator, Battle Royale, Black Lagoon, and Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

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Since EA is first and foremost a restaurant, though, there’s no combat allowed in the dining area. Instead, there’s a glass-walled 10-meter (33-foot) shooting range that keeps shots from flying into your friends’ food even as they watch you fire away.

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True customer service is all about letting your patrons have things their way, of course, so there’s yet another menu with a list of targets to choose from.

▼ We’re assuming that for the bottom right pattern on the left page, you’re supposed to save the hostage by taking down the kidnapper, and not just shoot both silhouettes.

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Neither Taranoko nor her pals had fired an airsoft gun before, but their kind, helpful waiter patiently explained the characteristics of each model. Eventually, the group made their selections and geared up.

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Then, finally, it was time to open fire!

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There was even a nice surprise waiting after the clip was empty, as customers can have their target to take home.

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It turns out Taranoko is a pretty good shot. One the one hand, this makes us all feel a lot safer should zombies ever overrun Shinjuku and we have to turn the RocketNews24 office into a fortress. At the same time though, now that she’s an experienced marksman, we’re a little scared of what might befall us should one of our work-related screw ups get her riled up.

Hopefully, if and when that happens, she’ll head back to EA instead of turning her sights on us.

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Restaurant information
Address: Tokyo-to, Musashino-shi, Gotenyama 1-5-5, Sawada Building 2nd Floor
Open Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Friday, Saturday, and days before holidays 5 p.m.-4 a.m.
Closed Tuesday

Photos: RocketNews24
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