How to Make a Sushi Restaurant Costume! (yes, the Whole Restaurant)




About: I'm an engineer. I problem solve all day, problem solve all night. I LOVE learning, and I love teaching what I learn. I want to post more, but time constraints stop me.

I wanted a unique costume this year.. and i had collected a sportload of boxes from my move to my new apartment. 

I love building costumes, I love sushi, so why not build a sushi restaurant costume?

The level of detail in this costume can be dependent on whether you live near a japanese market. I just so happen to work down the street from one of the largest in LA, so this worked out for me. Smaller details make this particular costume, so the more details you can pick up, the better this will turn out. 


Step 1: Tools and Materials

This is a little sparse as i bought the tools as I found I needed them, so i don't have all the documentation.

Here's what I bought:
Large wooden dowels 2x $4.00 
Acrylic/Plexiglas 1 9$10
brown paint 1x $4.00
Aluminum slats 2x $5
Aluminum Channel 2x $7 
Misc dishes 5x $2 each (reuseable)
manekineko (white cat statue with paw up) $3
bolts $4 total
Ikea bag 1x  $.57
lights 2x $15
batteries $9
cardboard boxes $FR.EE
assorted foam $FR.EE

Drill, drill bit, saws, files, pop rivet and gun, hot glue, clamps, etc are things I had already.

I spent quite a bit of money on this project, but I was short on time and didn't want to salvage these from various places.

Your neighbor's trash is a wealth of usable crap - good if you're short on money but not on time.

well, not for a sushi restaurant - unless your neighbors are Japanese and throwing crap out.

Step 2: Find Your Boxes

 I was wandering around my massive collection of boxes 

(I hate throwing away boxes, and my building DOES NOT RECYCLE. Grrr)

And I found two boxes from my purchase of my IKEA EKTORP couch.  The two side boxes were perfectly sized to be the two parts of my costume. 

I sketched out a few images to get my layout of what I wanted from the costume. Two boxes stacked on top of each other, glued.

Step 3: Support Frame (this Is Where I Failed)

This step is probably one of the hardest, and I'm going to have to let you make your own ideas flourish here. I made a support frame for the whole restaurant so I could walk around and have my hands free. This didn't work out like I'd hoped, and I hope you can improve on what I did. 

My thoughts include using a frame backpack to hold this thing in front of you.

First, wrap a piece around you. I bent the a piece of aluminum to make the part around me. It is just the right size to sit on my hip bones (I'll get to padding in a sec)

Next, I pop riveted L-angled pieces of aluminum to that frame. I held the whole thing stiff with a cross- brace. I could get out of the frame if I rotated it 45 degrees and either pushed it down, or lifted it over my head.

Then I cut holes in the box to allow these to slide in and be pulled out. the entire costume was held in place by a piece of velcro on the cross-brace to prevent from sliding off. I should have used a better means to hold the sushi counter on these rails.

Finally I pop-riveted (bad idea, screws and nuts would have worked a million times better) the back support to hold this whole contraption upright.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have spent a bit more time making sure that this was rock solid. I had a hard time maneuvering because the back support was too springy. The whole restaurant bounced everytime I walked because it wasn't stiff enough. Eventually the pop rivets gave way and broke on me in the middle of the night. My quick solution was the tuck the broken pieces in the front of my pants, and use them to lift up the cross-brace. 

This didn't hurt, but was terribly annoying.

For cushioning on the sides, I had some left over dense foam that I taped to the sides of the frame. This actually worked pretty well. I didn't have bruises.

Step 4: Painting

If I had time and could find the right tone of paint, I would have painted this with a lighter shade of brown to show a wood grain - almost all sushi restaurants I go to use a lighter wood grain. Like an Oak or a Pine looking wood.

I wanted to do the same, but again, ran out of time.

I painted the top half silver to simulate the metal cooler cabinet, and painted the bottom half brown.

To simulate a wood grain, I used a black colored pencil to mark the wood grain. This turned out to be a useless task as it was too dark to even see the appearance. 

Looked good to me tho. 

Step 5: The Sushi Cooler/counter

The sushi counter is what makes the costume - however, it also needs to be sturdy enough to take being transported around.

I constructed the bottom with IKEA EKTORP boxes from my couch that I'd bought. I put one as the counter, and one as the cooler and cut an asterisk shaped hole on all four surfaces and inserted the largest wood dowels that they had at Home Depot. Cutting the holes this way allowed a tight, centered fit, and I could remove the posts when storing in my car.

I reinforced the joint between the two with hot glue.

I spray painted the cooler silver to resemble metal. 
The glass see thru part was made by cutting out the spot where the window would go, and inserting plexiglas in the cut out. it's held in place by hot glue. 

I picked up a sushi rolling mat from a local japanese market and glued that to the "bottom" of the sushi counter. This is where the fish would go. 

The lighting was made by cutting holes in the top. I picked up some cheap LED lighting 3 pack from Harbor Freight. I cut holes, and hot glued them in place.

Step 6: Sushi Shop Knick-knacks

What kind of sushi restaurant is missing all the knick-knacks?

My sushi restaurant (and maybe yours) needed all the miscellaneous trinkets that they typically have there.

The best place in LA is Marukai - if not, then you can make your own out of cardboard cut outs. 

The summoning cat, (maneki neko) I was going to print out from a picture on the internet and have it sit there. The rest, I was just going to use cardboard and simulate. I had a lot of the stuff already, so there was no real trouble.

The placemat was made by using inkscape, a free graphic editor. I just put my name in Japanese on the placemat and printed out two standard sheets of paper.

I knew I was going to be around drunk people West Hollywood (haha and no, I don't live there), so I had everything bolted down. Everything had a bolt hot glued to the base of it, and was put in place by punching a hole in the cardboard and using a washer and nut to hold it in place. 

The wooden piece could be made easily, but I bought one instead. this too was also bolted down.

The sushi curtain was made from an IKEA blue bag. I cut out one side of the bag, and cut three cuts in it. In order to be able to see me, I screwed another set of Harbor Freight lights to the top bar. This allowed me to light up the entire sushi restaurant. One light on me, one on the counter, and one on the top of the counter. 

For sushi, I found some erasers shaped like sushi. I glued them down on the wooden blocks, just in case some drunk dummy tried to eat them. One girl almost did.. 

Step 7: Final Thoughts

This was a fun costume, I got a lot of compliments and hundreds of people took pics of me in West hollywood. 

Problem is, the streets are hard to navigate if this thing isn't sold on you. I can imagine if you're not a big person, that could also add to the difficulty. If you're going somewhere small, this costume is a bit of a pain, if you're going somewhere outdoors, this costume is perfect. Also, expect to stand around a lot - have a friend bring you drinks so you don't have to move. lol

I made this in about 1 weekend including finding the pieces to put it together. The only part i"d change is the support. The detail was cool, and really made the costume.

Good luck!



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    28 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Best idea ever, Thank you so much!! My version won me 2nd prize in a costume contest I didn't even know I entered - $200 Bucks!! Nicely Done!

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Side View Schematic.... The details makes the costume!

    Total cost for goods (had the summoning cat and lights) about $80 - Not Bad!

    Side View Bar.jpg

    8 years ago on Introduction

    freaking awesome!

    definitely could have gone with some kind of shoulder harness and maybe a back piece to the whole costume (to make it look like you were a completely self contained the back piece could have been the back wall of the sushi shop) then disguised the harness as an apron.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    like i said, any suggestions would be better than the crap harness I made. I really should have planned it out better.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    dude, this is so win. I might make most of the harness rigging from my old camping bag, (too lazy!) also another place to store Halloween goods!

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

    That is the most amazing and hilarious thing I've seen on this site in a long long time! You sir are a genius! My tenugui goes off to you :D

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Up until now, the best costume I had seen was a lemonade stand. Yours is the best costume ever. Very creative!

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I love it! (and I don't even eat sushi) :)