The Robot Restaurant Shinjuku is insane. There is nothing quite like it in Tokyo, nor anywhere else. It cannot be referred to it as merely a restaurant–the Robot Restaurant is an energetic, robo-centric show located in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku. And you certainly can’t miss it, seeing that it is a huge building with large flashy lights and robot techno music blaring from the speakers.
The Pre-Show Experience
The Robot Restaurant is touristy–they know it, and they love to flaunt it. From what we saw, more than 90% of the guests were foreign visitors, mostly North Americans. All the signs are shown prominently in English, and there are a number of foreign staff that speak native-level English.
A single ticket is a hefty ¥8000, though you can get ¥500 off when buying tickets in advance from their site, or a discount through Voyagin. A bento to eat during the performance costs another ¥1000, which must be reserved before the performance. Beers and soft drinks are another ¥500-¥600 each. There are three shows per day during the week and a fourth on Saturday (showtimes), and each show runs for 90 minutes. However, you must be in the building at least 30 minutes prior to the performance. This means that you should set aside a minimum two hours for the experience.
As soon as you enter, you are struck by the outrageously tacky décor, designed with a wink-and-nudge of giggly self-awareness. All guests go to the third floor waiting room, and from there the English-speaking staff will help you find the bar and the seats. There was a robot-costumed saxophone and guitar player playing jazz while we waited for the start of the performance, perfectly setting the mood for the wacky night ahead. Order food and drinks in the waiting room. The prices are what you’d expect for such a tourist-heavy establishment (Eg. ¥600 for beer and ¥1400 for an American-styled “Mega Burger”).
When it’s time for the performance to start, the staff leads the guests down a staircase of lizard sculptures and tactile paintings to the performance area. The seating is cramped, a tight spot to sit for a 90-minute performance. If you pre-ordered a bento during reservation, then you’ll collect them here. Also, you can purchase popcorn and drinks from the staff circulating through the room. There are three bento options available–grilled boneless short ribs, ginger-simmered beef in sweetened soy sauce, and sushi. All three bento are on the small side, but you aren’t actually here for dinner, are you?
The show itself is excellent. The action is loud and flashy. A surprisingly large and varied cast of robots appears throughout the performance. The first segment is an eclectic taiko performance, fusing a traditional Japanese drum with—well, robots, obviously!
We liked the most was the “Robot Wars” segment. This story tells us of a war between animals and the Robot Empire. The action-packed story was funny and familiar, almost as if action figures from my came to life off of my bedroom floor. The scale of the performances is quite extraordinary, and the performers are well-rehearsed and had lots of energy.
Intermission and Souvenirs
Every 30 minutes there is a 15-minute intermission so the set pieces can be changed for the next performance. During intermissions the staff circulates through the audience, selling souvenirs and refreshments. Get another drink, make that bathroom trip without missing the action, or get one of those sweet Robot Restaurant T-shirts!
The Robot Restaurant might be a touristy thing to do, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. It might be pricey, but you are guaranteed a fun night full of battlin’ robots!
Robot Restaurant Location Information
Reservations by Phone in English: 03-3200-5500
Nearest Station: 8-minute walk from Shinjuku Station (plan your route at the link and click on the Google Map below for walking directions)
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