There are a ton of quirky things to do in Tokyo, especially related to food and beverages. You can have dinner while playing 90s video games or while getting the quintessential ‘maid cafe’ experience. You can also do as I did on my first visit, sip cocktails out of a mannequins head in a jail cell at Alcatraz ER and drink coffee at a very unusual cat cat cafe.
OR you can take it even one step further and choose to eat sushi from a bento box while watching scantily clad girls ride twelve foot steel horses as live stuffed animals prance around the stage at the Robot Restaurant show.
FYI: No one really cares about the bento box.
Earlier in the evening I was happily dining on crispy tempura at the legendary Shinjuku Tsunahachi So-honten, because even though the word “restaurant” in the name of that evenings robot war show, it’s really not one. It is best to eat elsewhere. After dinner, my companions wanted to make it an early evening and I wanted to spend my last night in Tokyo doing something that I would never forget, so I headed to the legendary Robot Restaurant solo. The maps app on my IPhone gave me easy and accurate directions.
The Robot Restaurant
It’s pretty hard to miss the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area, a place known as the red-light district. You walk through the streets lighted archway and enter into a different world where girly clubs mix with love hotels, bars and eateries. Then there’s a rainbow of lights with music blaring in the background. You have arrived.
Even if you don’t plan on going inside, you can sit in the robot chairs out front for a great instagram photo opportunity.
Where to Buy Tickets
I hadn’t purchased tickets in advance, but they were available at the ticket office right across the way from the entrance door. As typical with many shows, at-the-door prices were much higher than could be secured elsewhere, ¥8,000 ($72 USD). That’s what you get for procrastinating! Though, it was lucky that there were even tickets still available, because the small venue has very limited seating and they sell out often. Purchasing tickets beforehand is highly recommended!
You can find cheaper tickets (¥60-70,000, $54-$63 USD) if you book in advance at these places:
- Voyagin – This booking site brings you the best options for tours and activities in Asia.
- Veltra – A booking site with over 4,500 tours and activities to choose from.
- Hotel Concierge — Ask your hotel’s concierge to book tickets for you. They may be able to get even a better deal than the online booking sites.
After entering from the outside, I walked down a long neon lit hallway into a room that was a mix of Liberace’s house and Las Vegas casino, times ten. A huge chunk of the ¥10 million cost to build the Robot Restaurant must be inside this room.
The bar is the holding tank.
It’s a place where you can order semi-pricey drinks (like $6 bottles of Budweiser) while you wait for entrance into the main show hall. The glitz, gold and velvet was an indication of what was to come.
The loudspeaker announced when the show was ready for seating and like a herd of cattle we made our way down a few flights of fabulously decorated stairs to the rectangular showroom. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, only three rows of seats.
Just about every seat is a good one.
BUT, they are crammed together. If you didn’t know your neighbor before you arrived, you will by the time you leave. Let’s hope they didn’t have garlic for dinner and decided to put on a heavy dose of deodorant that morning.
Video screens lined the back walls playing psychedelic films that I could only assume would greatly enhance the effects of some mind altering drugs. Or maybe they were meant to replicate the effects?
The Robot Wars Show
From the very first minute it’s a chaotic and fabulous extravaganza that goes beyond the typical robots. Lady drummers pound, clown-like characters perform, sexy girls dance, over-sized stuffed pandas wave glow sticks and yes there are some robots.
It is sensory overload. In a good way.
It’s like the Thunderdome movie comes to life with a little bit of Ninja Turtles and Panda Bears mixed in and they meet up with Lady Gaga. It had a little bit of everything.
Hard to imagine?
About every 15-20 minutes there was a break from the pandemonium. During this time staff walked around carrying large boards advertising snacks and beverages for sale — popcorn, doritos and cans of Asashi beer.
Then the chaos continued on…
Words can not really do justice to describing the Robot Restaurant show, it has to be seen live. Only in Japan would you find something so quirky, futuristic, and baffling.
And it would be a complete success.
It is a captivating show that will bewilder the first-time Tokyo visitor, but if you have been to this vibrant city before it will make perfect sense in a nonsensical sort of way.
- Location: 1-7-1 Kabukicho, B2F, Shinjuku Prefecture | Website | Map
- Taking photos is allowed as long as you don’t use flash
- Use the restroom before entering, it’s tight quarters and squeezing to get out of your seat can be difficult