Robot Restaurant, Japan
Surrounded by adult entertainment establishments and Pachinko arcades, an odd combination that appear to be comfortable bedfellows in Tokyo, Robot Restaurant is a beacon of neon light in the centre of the Kabukicho entertainment district of Shinjuku.
Two giant armour clad maidens mark the entrance to the psychedelic corridor which leads you into the pre-show area. The room appears to have been decorated by Libarace’s stylist during one of his more flamboyant moments. A robot band (not actual robots) play eighties classics whilst you wait to be lead into the show proper.
It’s at this point that you may realise that if you’ve come here expecting to get an insight into Japanese culture you’ve probably come to the wrong place. On our visit the clientele was almost exclusively westerners, the first clue should have been the staff who, unusually for Japan, all spoke perfect English.
One other thing worth clearing up. Robot Restaurant is not a restaurant. You can get a box meal, they have snacks, beer and soft drinks, but despite the name the food is definitely not the attraction.
Once in the bowels of the building and seated either side of a broad catwalk, reminiscent of a jousting stadium, you are given one last chance to stock up on drinks. Top tip, get some alcohol inside you, you’re going to need it.
What happens next is probably best left to the photos, but I’ll have a crack at it anyway.
Firstly a small aeroplane on a stand is wheeled around the place. This is done to show the people in the front row that if they lean forward too far they are going to get a face full of robot.
Then it’s on to the first act.
The show begins with a drum, and dance routine, which momentarily could be mistaken for a tribal dance. That is until Lady Gaga emerges, riding a 7 foot fish, and wielding an electric guitar. Waves of brightly coloured nonsense eventually give way to dancing demons with wild hair and swords. The first act is wrapped up when Ryu from Street Fighter shares a carnival float with an enormous prawn, and couple of robots make a brief appearance.
I’ll just let that sink in………………………..
Look I know that sounds horrendous, but it’s not.
I don’t know if it’s the rhythmic drumming, or the visual barrage on your senses. But somehow it’s absolutely captivating.
Now, another chance to get beer.
I’m going to need that…………
Surprisingly, despite the captive audience, and the astronomical prices that can easily be found elsewhere in Tokyo, the drinks are quite reasonable.
A brief pause in proceedings is bridged by a comedy dance act, and we’re off again.
Act 2 tells the story of a green and pleasant land attacked by the villains from Mad Max. Again you are lulled into a false sense of security with a tribal dance routine. However this is soon interrupted by the arrival of the War Boys. But what the baddies hadn’t expected was that the animals of the forest would rise up to protect their land.
Enter the monkey on a trapeze………..
And when, unsurprisingly, this does not thwart the enemy, he is replaced by a panda riding a cow.
Still not defeated, how about a 12 foot chicken, etc. etc. etc.
This madness carries on for a while, and when all hope is fading……..
A dinosaur comes to the rescue…….
But couldn’t you have turned up a bit earlier and saved countless lives?
Another brief interlude.
And another chance to stock up on much-needed Asahi.
The second interval act is a pretty cool dance and laser show.
And, then we’re back into it.
This time we get a warning that it’s going to get a little bit crazy, and are handed some luminous batons to wave about.
The final act is where we see the robots, along with dancing horses, dancing zebras, and even zebras riding horses. There’s a giant armour clad mannequin being chauffeured about by a clown, a fully grown Pinocchio, and a parade of dances in full carnival regalia.
Well we were warned.
And then it’s all over.
Surprisingly all too soon.
Apart from that song. “Robot-Robot-Restaurant”, that’s going to be going around my head for months……….
Robot Restaurant is expensive, so expensive that we almost did not go (at the time of writing 8000yen), but we’re really glad we did. It’s worth shopping around for tickets. We managed to find a whopping 15% discount with the tour and experience booking agent, Voyagin. Their booking system was simple and we received an email confirming the booking reference, so we didn’t need to go in advance to pick up paper tickets. We just showed to the restaurant at the time of our reservation. Simple…
Have you been to Robot Restaurant? We’d love to hear what you thought. Leave a comment below.