My review of the Robot Restaurant in Japan
Growing up in the 80s, I was part of the generation whose first Japanese lesson was how to say thank you,” brought to us by classic rock band Styx in an unexpected delightfully cheesy, sci-fi themed album. “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!” And with that phrase firmly planted in my brain by means of ear worm, I can’t help but recall robots when I hear thank you in Japanese. Surprisingly, not many Japanese people know the song (and god knows I’ve asked around), but there is definitely still a love for all things robotic.
My friend Manami and I stood waiting at a crosswalk in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district when a large trailer with what looked a bit like a sexed up version of Rock’em Sock’em robots rolled past, blaring music. “What the hell is that?”
“It is the robot restaurant. Do you want to go?”
Silly question, but yes, domo arigato!
Robot Restaurant in Tokyo is more of a floor show with bento boxes and basic drinks. Nami booked a couple of robot restaurant tickets online, and we headed to Shinjuku again. Robot Restaurant is situated inside what appears to be an old parking ramp.
First we headed upstairs to a lounge where a live band – dressed as robots or Cylon raiders perhaps – entertained us while we waited for the doors to the show to open.
An announcement instructed us to head downstairs where the parking ramp floor was evident. We entered a long room with three rows of somewhat cramped couple-sized cocktail table seats on either side. We took our seats, ordered a couple of canned drinks, and waited.
How does one review something like this? What we witnessed was not exactly a Broadway show nor was it amateur hour. A parade of pretty young Japanese women came out and went bad-ass on traditional Taiko drums. Remote-control “robots” came and went or played roles in a laser and pyrotechnics battles not unlike a live action Godzilla set.
I can say this much for it: it is loud.
Our best analysis determined this was a mermaid riding a giant shark. Someone eventually was eaten.
Riding the giant serpent which blew smoke and sparks in battle. Someone was eventually eaten.
And colorful. The occasional strobe light might ruin the night for the seizure-prone. Take note of the sharp-toothed, beetle-type robot, shooting lasers as it rolled into battle. Can’t remember for sure, but I believe someone was eaten here.
A robot from Picasso’s Blue Period.
If you thought the serpent was awesome, the chrome-finished serpent was even awesomer.
Some of the “robots” are the actors cleverly mounted into disguised Segways.
Photos are allowed and encouraged, however, the large-scale flailing beasts come with the additional warning to keep your hands outside the performance area and watch your head when the giant serpent passes over you.
Interspersed throughout the show are song and dance numbers.
Every square inch of the place induces stopping and staring. Here we are admiring our feet against the awesome floor on our way out after the show.
Viator offers pre-booked tickets and tour of Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant and the night we visited, the place was sold out.
Credits for all the photos inside the show itself go to my good friend Manami!
Did you know you can travel from South Korea to Japan by ferry?