Stephen: The Robot Restaurant is an infamous attraction in Shinjuku, which is more of a show than anything else, despite what the name might infer. At first, I wasn’t really keen on going, as it seemed like a bit of a tourist trap. Tickets were definitely not cheap either, coming in at about 50 quid a pop. However, we decided to give it a bash.
The ‘restaurant’ itself is nestled in a slightlier sketchy area than the rest of Tokyo, and is apparently surrounded by Yakuza owned joints – which probably explained their ‘no visible tattoo’ door rule.
From the minute you come down the street that the venue is on, the bright lights grab your attention (which is impressive for Tokyo), and the restaurant’s theme song is played over and over at an obnoxious volume. I don’t think I’ll ever get that thing out of my head. It is bright, and garish, and wonderful.
This theme carries on when you go into the building, down corridors filled with neon lights and bizarre visuals. The visual stimulation here is off the charts.
The waiting area is difficult to describe… set out like a warped spaceship cruise liner’s ballroom, complete with ‘robot’ jazz band.
The attention to detail is as impressive as you would come to expect in Japan. No half measures here. Even the toilets were decked out in the gaudiest decor you can imagine.
For the show itself, you descend into the basement of the seemingly huge building, and take your seats in darkness with a huge space in the middle. From the get go, things get nuts. We were seated in the front row, with the performers and robotics literally coming right up to our faces, and above our heads. This is a show that would never get passed health and safety in the UK.
It’s difficult to describe the show, and so I’m not going to bother. All I will say is that it was intense, and incredible at every stage. Whenever you thought it had reached its peak, they pulled something else out the bag to blow you away. My eyes were moving all over the place, and I took so many pictures it was ridiculous. It was truly amazing.
We came out of the show walking around stunned from the sheer sensory overload of the Robot Restaurant. It was such an intense experience, and probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and that is no exaggeration. We all agreed that we would gladly have paid to go back multiple times if we had more time left. This wasn’t just some crappy tourist trap; it was a top class production, and I’d encourage everybody to go if they get the chance.
There’s little I can add to Stephen’s blurb, other than I enjoyed it so much, I’m going back next week… You might note that my images aren’t as colourful as Stephens – this is not because he intensified the colours, but I desaturated mine a little – his are (unbelievably) closer to real life; it’s hard to exaggerate quite how intense the sensory overload is in this place. A tourist trap that is entirely worth the inflated ticket price.
Grace: One cannot simply explain The Robot Restaurant – just know that you’ll need to see it for yourself. A lot of these pictures will be similar in terms of content, but since we were all using very different cameras, I think you’ll get three pretty distinct representations of the experience.
- It’s absolutely worth the money. Get your tickets ahead of time on the internet because you’re likely to get discounts this way!
- Do not eat there. It may be called “Robot Restaurant” but you only want to go for the show (unless painfully mediocre-looking bento boxes sounds like your thing).
- DO drink there! They have intermissions throughout the show where you can buy various alcoholic beverages. FUN. There’s also popcorn.
- Drumming, lasers, costumes, dancing, singing, an ace-load of electronics, neon, smoke, ROBOTS. BRACE YOUR EYES.
You are immediately escorted into a waiting room with what else, but a robot band. My eyes didn’t know what to focus on.
And then down, down, down: into the depths of the Robot Restaurant lair. Stephen mentioned that the plot line of this performance can’t be explained, or barely followed for that matter. All I know is that it’s as if we all turned into wide-eyed, overly excited children once this show started. You can’t look away. And there’s a permanent smile attached to your face. Just. GO.
Everyone had an amazing time.
…Except for this guy – who actually looked like this the whole time. Wtf? C’MON MAN. It’s the ROBOT SHOW.