[Tokyo] Robot Restaurant must be one of the most bizarre experiences one can have in Tokyo.
While it is called a “restaurant”, there is no proper dining per se. Do not expect much (or anything) from the food, but sad-looking bento boxes that the convenience stalls would have offered better ones.
The restaurant reportedly cost over USD$100 million, featuring 90 minutes (technically less) shows where skimpily-dressed girls ride on robots and engage in mock battles under neon light and loud music.
Is that an adequate summary?
(Click PLAY for video of Robot Restaurant)
The Robot Restaurant is obviously very popular, with four shows daily at 4:00pm, 5:55pm, 7:50pm, and 9:45pm sold out frequently.
The walls of the reception were lined with photographs and autographs of international celebrities who paid a visit.
Online reviews seem positive, and I have been putting this on my Tokyo bucket list. The only thing stopping me was its cost.
Priced at ¥8,000, this is hardly cheap.
However, during the peak season, you would need to book your tickets online via the official website or related agencies at least a week in advance.
Visitors need to turn up 40 minutes before show time to collect tickets. Reception is opposite the show building, and the distribution of tickets can take quite a while. Also, entrance to the show venue is at the basement, led by a narrow stairway.
For first time visitors, please note that guests are prohibited from attending the show if they are:
– Wearing sunglasses
– Disheveled in appearance
– Wearing excessive costume
– Gang members or anyone with visible tattoos (you have to cover up if you have them)
The above is from an email sent to me, I didn’t make it up.
In terms of programme, I was expecting more from the robots themselves, which unfortunately were taking secondary fiddle roles, acting like floats in the carnival carrying performers literally making their rounds on the floor.
The girls were obviously putting their best, super energetic in dancing, smiling, drumming, singing, swinging, being take photos of. Audience generally got high, though some were spotted leaving mid-way, never coming back.
Keep in mind they have 4 shows per day.
For those who think that there is a cabaret performance, the presentation is not quite like that.
If you are wondering if it is appropriate to bring kids – because the female performers do show quite a bit of skin, it is generally safe in that aspect.
However, do note that music can be too loud for the kids, and Robot Restaurant is in the middle of Kabukicho – a red-light district.
What I didn’t quite like was that there were far too many breaks in between.
While it was a 90 minute show, there were about 3 to 4 breaks in between, each lasting from about 5 to 15 minutes, leaving very little time for the actual performances.
It was a pity, as some portions were actually crazily entertaining, but ended with a drink/toilet break before you know it.
The show started with staff parading merchandise and sales of drinks. It seemed entertaining at first, and became off-putting after this happened EVERY SINGLE BREAK. ”Get some drinks. It’s last chance.”
The organisers seemed to take the opportunity to sell anything from food, beer, snacks and tee-shirts. The audience either being high or bored, ended up buying popcorn and drinks.
I wished there was some form of narrative or storyline. The Robot show started with girls drumming, a panda riding on a bull, then moved on to a story of robots invading a peaceful garden, to an evil queen trying to defeat a dinosaur then got eaten up.
Something like that, as if anyone cared enough. It ended on an anti-climatic song-and-dance with audience waving light sticks.
The space was super cramped, and it was almost impossible to get up or down the seating area if you were just slightly overweight.
Audience in the middle portion and front rows probably got the best deal, as the main actions took part in the centre of the floor, with spectators at the edge feeling left out a fair bit of time.
Food was a sushi bento, priced at an additional ¥8,000. You won’t need me to describe to know how it would taste.
So why is the Robot Restaurant that popular again?
It is probably because you don’t get anything like this anywhere else in the world. It is like a fantasy realm of kawii Japanese-manga type girls on top of robots, singing with occasional screaming. There is fun in that.
A final precaution, as I stepped out of the restaurant, I was immediately approached by pimps who asked if I wanted “pretty girls” and then shoved me a catalogue.
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Shinjuku Robot Building Basement 2, 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Japan
Four shows at: 4:00pm, 5:55pm, 7:50pm, 9:45pm (Turn up at the reception 40 minutes before showtime.)