I’ve heard about the Robot Restaurant for a while and had walked past it a number of times during my trips to Kabukicho in Shinjuku. It always seemed like a popular tourist attraction but at ¥8,000 per ticket (approx. $58 USD) at the door, it was a bit too steep to go out of pure curiosity. So when my wife was offered a chance to get a sponsored ticket from Voyagin, in which they offer 15% off discount ticket, I jumped at the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. Here’s my Shinjuku Robot Restaurant review.
How to Get to Shinjuku Robot Restaurant
Train station: Shinjuku Station East Exit, then follow the directions to Shinjuku Robot Restaurant using Google maps here. It’s about 10-minute walk.
For tourist, the first thing you should know is that it can be a little bit confusing to find the place without the help of Google Maps. The reason for this is that it’s located in Kabukicho, which can be extremely crowded and difficult to navigate. Along with that, the show is actually in a separate building than where you buy the tickets, so it may add to the confusion for a tourist not accustomed to the area. Neither of these are particularly bad things; they’re just things I feel you should know beforehand so you’re prepared.
Once inside, it’s quite cramped; which is normal in most Japanese establishments. There is food available (you buy it along with your ticket), but I would suggest eating before the show, as the menu is very limited. On the night we went they were serving sushi, but I’m not sure if they rotate the menu with other foods. Inside there is popcorn for ¥300, along with beer, and other alcoholic, and non-alcoholic beverages starting at ¥500. But these can only be purchased during intermissions. Another good bit of info to know, is that you can’t use the bathroom during an act, and if you’re in the bathroom once an act starts, you can’t return to your seat.
Robot Restaurant Review
First act: The show started with a highly entertaining, traditional Taiko drums performance mixed with some modern twists, such as neon lights, a rock drum set, and mixed traditional/futuristic costumes. Next, they brought out a long stage to allow for dancers to join in on the music. In all, the first routine was very fun and entertaining, but it did feel slightly out of place in a venue known as the “Robot Restaurant.”
Second act: After an intermission, the second act was undoubtable the weirdest thing I’ve seen during my 7 years in Japan. This act was supposed to tell a story of sorts, which turned out to be ridiculously corny, and included some things which would probably present legal issues if it were performed in America. To start, the voice acting in the entire show is in English, even if the performers themselves don’t speak it. It’s all dubbed over the speakers. This leads to some unintentionally entertaining scenes of performers over-exaggerating their mouth and body movements, to pretend they are speaking in English.
As for the act itself, it’s a story of a distant peaceful planet, unaffected by war, where all the people and animals live in harmony. It’s suddenly attacked by bad guys from the evil Robots world who want to rule it for themselves. During the explanation, there is a video on the giant screens, located on either side of the room, presenting the story. The issue is that the music they play during the shows are straight out of movies, and the characters shown to depict the bad guys are from the popular Blizzard game series, Warcraft. This is not an issue against the show itself, but it does make you wonder if the operators of the show know they are stealing trademarked properties. As for the music, the second act ends with the triumphant music of Indiana Jones. Throughout the show, I heard music from Star Wars, ET, and Jurassic Park. So hopefully they obtained permission from the correct people to use said music.
Third act: The third and final act was the most entertaining of the bunch, and the act from which the Robot Restaurant gets its name. It started with an introduction to all the cast members in the show, followed by an impressively coordinated routine involving around 10 to 12 different Wi-Fi controlled giant robots as the performers danced and sang to music a band was playing on a moving stage.
I say, all this was impressive, because it was amazing to me that they could pull of the show at all within the very narrow stage. It was narrow enough that, had one of the drivers of the robots (moving stages) made a mistake, it would have forced the whole show to stop while they repositioned. The stages were literally inches from each other, and the audience. In fact, I have doubts that such a show would be allowed in countries like the US without their being some kind of barrier between the stage and the platforms.
The Verdict: Is it worth it?
In summary, the show was very entertaining, although, I personally believe it would be more appealing if I had been able to drink during the show. I was driving, thus unable to drink! I don’t, however, believe it’s worth the ¥8,000 price. That said, if you can manage to get the tickets at a discounted price, then it would be worth the time to see it with friends.
It’s an entertaining show, and it really encompasses the modern Japanese culture as a whole. It includes a mix of the campy, zany, and sexy that Japanese people, especially the younger generations, really seem to enjoy.