Shinjuku, the neighborhood around one of the busiest Metro Stations in Tokyo, is known as entertainment district to most. This area offers restaurants and bars that locals frequent though the tourists come for one show in particular. With an over-the-top, action-packed production, the Robot Restaurant is a must for first time Tokyo visitors.
Anthony Bourdain Made Me Do It
Still blurry-eyed from my West Coast flight, I got tickets to the Robot Restaurant Show on my first evening in Tokyo. As a treat for my daughter, who’s a foreign exchange student in Tokyo, I followed Anthony Bourdain’s advice to see the show.
Still reeling from his death, I somehow felt closer knowing I was in a spot he’d been. As early fan of his, I read Kitchen Confidential when I considered attending his alma-mater, The Culinary Institute of America, way back in the 90s.
He was right and the show’s a must. For even for a seasoned traveler, Tokyo is a destination that’s both foreign and friendly. And this show demonstrates how much of the Japanese culture a North American traveler just doesn’t get.
So take Anthony’s advice and then take mine. See the show.
Robot Restaurant is a Must
Take in Tokyo’s pop culture in a temple to light, sound and action. Complete with lady-eating monsters, pyrotechnics and lasers, the Robot Restaurant show is a must for first time Tokyo visitors.
See live action robots covered in lights duel in a classic good versus evil story line. Though after watching the show, I didn’t actually catch who were the good guys.
The Robot Restaurant Show borrows characters from the last 30 years of Japanese pop culture. And the entire show feels like you dropped into a video game or a live action manga comic. Take your pick.
Like was that a giant Transformer or Tron, or Tron the Transformer…
Didn’t have time to think since a red-eyed robot started sparring with a panda and monkey. But wait, is that a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?
Flash! Another round of pyrotechnics. The Mom in me looks for the fire escape.
Then I find myself singing along to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Out comes the killer lobster and it looks mad.
Find samurai-sword wielding characters, Pokemon-like players even an homage to Hello Kitty in a fast-paced show.
Confused by the storyline, yep. My eyes just followed the action around the performance area between two risers of onlookers.
What to Eat and Drink During the Show
Eating and drinking during the show is allowed. Guests just have to purchase their items before or during an intermission.
It runs the gamut, find fried chicken and churros (the fried dough sticks dusted in cinnamon sugar from Mexico.) Popcorn is sold in movie theater sized tubs. Bento Boxes are also available.
Find Japanese beer in the can. Though order a Moet and Chandon champagne if you’re celebrating. The most popular drink is the light bulb glass that lights up when filled with soda.
My Recommendations for the Robot Restaurant
Arrive early, the lounge looks like a Japanese version of Liberace’s house. Drinks and snacks are available along with live entertainment.
See the show in your first few days in Tokyo. It adds to the Lost in Translation moments of visiting Tokyo for the first time.
The earlier shows offer a family-friendly vibe and tweens and teens will enjoy the show. All my teen could mutter after the show, What was that?
Though the Robot Restaurant Show is probably too much stimuli for younger kids, especially with the fighting scenes and loud sound effects. Ear protection is advised for younger guests.
The area around Kabukicho is technical a red light district in the evening. So I didn’t explore the area with my teen. I just walked to the Robot Restaurant from the Shinjuku Station and then left after the show. Though the main street, Shinjuku-dori offers shopping and dining.
Details on Visiting the Robot Restaurant
Location: 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku
Shows at 4:00, 5:55, 7:50 and 9:45 p.m.
Admission based on age.
Consideration for brands mentioned.
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