The Amazing Absurdity of Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant
The Robot Restaurant has become a must do for foreign tourists. In fact, the audience is now primarily westerners thanks to media coverage including Anthony Bourdain calling it “the greatest show in the history of entertainment.” In many ways the Robot Restaurant is emblematic of how foreigners see Japan. Difficult to understand, absolutely absurd, a little sexy but innocent at the same time. And like much of Japan, the Robot Restaurant is an unforgettable experience.
The Robot Restaurant is located in Kabukicho red light district part of the Shinjuku ward in Tokyo. You should book in advance, either online or through your hotel concierge. The show often sells out and there are discounts including 2 for 1 specials for purchasing in ahead of time Although it says restaurant in the name, it is recommended you do not pay extra for a below average meal and simply eat before the show. You may also purchase snacks and drinks before and after the show, but the prices are steep.
Upon arriving ticket in hand, you are led to an elevator taking you to the lounge, providing the first glimpse for what is in store this evening. The lounge can best be described as Liberace meets electronic punk. You are asked to arrive 30 minutes early for the show and even if you choose not to drink, it is well worth it taking in the lounge performances featuring bedazzled singers rocking out with robot dressed musicians. While the decor is gloriously tacky, the singers are extremely talented.
When it is time for the show you are ushered down a flight of stairs to the show floor. Your seat is a school desk that brings back memories of middle school. The tiny performance showroom puts you right up next to the action, merely inches from the performers.
The running time is 90 minutes and consists of several one act plays with 5-10 minute breaks in between allowing them to set up for the next act. The first act consists of scantily clad women performing on traditional Japanese drums.
From there, it’s difficult to describe the acts in any coherent logical manner. It’s as if they kept saying we want bigger, brighter, crazier, cornier. At one point they put up a chain fence to protect you from the coming battle of robots fighting other robots, tanks, giant panda’s, sharks, a flying bumblebee and whatever kind of creature they can think up. Other portions of the show have been switched up over the years, but count on lots of singing, dancing, robots, lasers, and dance music while guests waive their glow sticks to the beat.
The show ends and you slowly snap back to reality as you spill out into the streets of Tokyo. The Robot Restaurant is a bright, loud, over the top extravaganza. It is certainly a one of a kind experience that must be seen to be believed and even then wonder if you were actually dreaming.
Visiting The Robot Restaurant
The Robot Restaurant is located approximately 10 minutes east of Shinjuku Station in the Kabukicho red light district. For more information and prices visit their website.