Being a solo traveler in Tokyo is easy. It’s a very safe city and there are lots of things you can do on your own. Through the week, I had been busy exploring the city, and after my ramen dinners, I usually just passed out in my capsule.
On Saturday night, I wanted to do something else than just my usual ramen routine. I remembered that Rieko had told me about Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, which was supposed to be one of the hottest venues in the city, so I decided to go and check it out.
Robot Restaurant is located in Kabukicho, which is the red light district in Shinjuku, but in Japan, even red light districts look rather cute. I’ve been walking around that area several times before, without feeling uncomfortable.
The only thing I was worried about was whether, it would be a problem showing up without a reservation. Though I was lucky and got a ticket for the show starting at 7:50pm. The ticket was 6000JPY and for an additional 1000JPY, it included a bottle of water and a bento box with sushi.
Robot Restaurant is located in a basement several stairs underground. It was completely packed that evening, and I think 99% of the people in the audience were foreigners. I would have expected more Japanese people there, but it’s Tokyo and what’s popular one week, is most likely forgotten the next.
Robot Restaurant isn’t really a restaurant, but more of a cabaret. The show started with what seemed to be a traditional Japanese kabuki theatre show on ecstasy, with neon-colored wigs and electric guitars.
Then followed a boxing game between two robots and some really weird acts including a panda riding a cow, and one of the bad guys being eaten by a giant snake. At the final act, all the robots, singers and dancers were performing. It was such a surreal experience, and I laughed a lot throughout the show.
Sometimes, I laughed because it was funny, other times, because it was so strange, that I didn’t know how else to react, such as when the giant boobs robots entered the stage (WTF???). 6000JPY might sound a bit steep, but I had a good time, and it was a fun way to spend a Saturday night.
The Robot Restaurant is one of those only-in-Japan experiences, and even though it’s mostly tourists, who go there nowadays, I would definitely recommend a visit. Because how often do you get the chance to see wrestling robots, giant snakes and a psychedelic kabuki orchestra?
There are 3 performances each night (17:55, 19:50 and 21:45) plus an additional performance at 16:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Please check the schedule on the website for more details and exact timings, which vary throughout the week.
Robot Restaurant isn’t really a restaurant, but a cabaret. There are breaks throughout the show, during which you can buy snacks and drinks (also alcohol) from the bar or from the vendors, who walk by the seating area during the breaks.
You buy your ticket online or from the ticket booth, which is located just across the street from the restaurant. A while before the show starts, the staff will guide you to the entrance of the cabaret, which is around the corner of the building. You hang around for about 30 minutes in a lounge, before the staff will take you to the cabaret, which is downstairs, below street level.
Tickets are 8000JPY plus 1000JPY if you want a meal box. The sushi platter I had wasn’t very memorable, and unless you haven’t eaten before the show, and you’re afraid you might starve to death, I wouldn’t recommend getting the meal box. You’d be better off with just snacks and a beer, which you can purchase during the show.
• Dress code: No sunglasses, no costumes, no large wigs. Drunk customers and members of criminal organizations aren’t allowed to enter. If you have a tattoo, it must be covered up.
• Beer is ¥500, soft drinks are ¥300 and robot chips (of course you want that) are ¥200.
• If you’ve bought your tickets online, you have to be at the ticket counter across the street from the restaurant to pick up your tickets at least 30 minutes before the show starts.
Robot Restaurant, 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tel: 03-3200-5500, Address in Japanese: ロボットレストラン|トップページ, 東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1-7-1 新宿ロボットビル地下2階 東京