Who doesn’t love pterodactyls?
The cave-girl flying in on her leather-winged dinosaur, and then landing on the back of a stegosaurus, was amongst the many jaw-dropping highlights of my recent trip to Shinjuku’s insane Robot Restaurant. More of a performance than an eatery, the show will assault your senses in a fun-filled hour of noise, light and kitsch.
A short walk from Shinjuku Station, the venue is in the heart of the well-known Kabukicho entertainment district. This area is infamous for catering to seedier pursuits, so be warned that you may be approached on the way with offers your mother would rather you declined. Robot Restaurant is worth navigating this gauntlet of questionable opportunities, however, as the vibe inside is more silly than sexy, and the many women in the audience we talked to all said they enjoyed the show.
From the moment you spot the place from down the street, your eyes will have plenty to do. The front entrance is manned by a brontosaurus, a robot, and various costumed attendants ready to smile for your camera--it is worth a look even if you don’t shell out for a ticket to go inside. The waiting area and passage down to the theater are littered with glittering mirrors, lights, colours and images--it was all I could do to keep from tripping as I tried to look at everything on the way downstairs. The show itself is a cavalcade of action and frenzy--with robot fights, dancing girls, machines and gadgets, music, special effects and an intermission break that gives the audience a chance to pose with the cast. This video from Kohji Shiiki can give you some idea of what to expect:
Tickets for Robot Restaurant are five-thousand yen, and the price includes your choice of bento-box food with bottle of cold tea. School-desk style seating lining both sides of the long central stage holds just 100 people and adds a lot to the fun atmosphere. Arrive early to get in line if you want to be in the front row (of three), as seats are non-reserved. My back-row desk still gave me a perfectly fine view, and being elevated I was closer to the young ladies passing out high-fives from their conveyor belt perches above our heads.
There are normally 3 shows per night (most consistently Tuesdays through Saturdays) at 7, 8:30, and 10pm, but check the calendar to be sure you are not planning to go when they are on a break.
There is a souvenir stand and concession bar for canned drinks and snacks, and vendors sell supplementary refreshments in the theater to keep your whistle wet before the show and during intermission. English info is abundant, though the MC spoke only Japanese when I was there.
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