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Not quite a candlelight dinner in Toyko

“I’m still trying to figure out why exactly I liked it. It was more tacky than extravagant at times. But even then it was hilarious.”

 

Sensible. Sophisticated. Culturally Accurate. Technically Skillful.

These are words I would not use to describe the Robot Restaurant.

But was it Entertaining? Oh yes. It was definitely entertaining.

When you think of the name “A Robot Restaurant” in Tokyo, all manner of über, new age technological advancements probably come to your mind. Also probably food. Well cast those thoughts aside, buddy, and replace them with lights. Lots and lots of lights.

To illuminate this point (see what I just did there), here is a photo from the outside of the palace. It is one of the most recognisable buildings in downtown Tokyo. This is downtown Tokyo by the way; a condensed metropolis packed with neon lights and symbols. This still stands out. The inside is also just as… decorative.

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Just to state the obvious, epileptics would probably not enjoy this show.

Remember that story when John Lennon got a letter from a schoolboy saying that the boy’s school teacher was making the class analyse every one of The Beatles’ songs, so John Lennon wrote the song I Am The Walrus, which purposefully no sense. Now imagine that as a show with robots and drums. Got it? No? Me neither.

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Ah, the moment that the Alien robots fought the giant insects. Great analogy for our times.

I don’t want to say much of what goes on, except it’s more of a parade than a theatre show, that involves robots (spoilers) and many camp costumes in some capacity. I don’t want to say much else of what happens partly as I think it would ruin the experience of anyone who wanted to go, and mostly because I still am not entirely sure what the hell I witnessed. I’m still trying to figure out why exactly I liked it. It was more tacky than extravagant at times. But even then it was hilarious. The robots were less new age technology and more 90’s flashing machines. But then when else are you going to see a man in a panda costume fight a robot dinosaur in a flashing menagerie? Who really would want to miss out on that opportunity?

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You can control one of these outside the actual building.

I have done entertainment work, as well as entertainment work for children, and as much as people may hate to admit it, we love gimmicks. People often think they want high-end, upmarket, undiscovered magical new ideas, to improve their etiquette, cultural knowledge and social media pages. But people like the same gimmicky, simple, high-concept things that they already know and can relate to, just in a way they haven’t seen before. Basically, people often want the same thing just a little different. With bigger production design. Well, it’s definitely a little different, and the production design is a sensory overload. Also, it is legitimately one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. If you put aside your logic and buckle up for some ridiculous fun, you will not be disappointed. A lot of the show had me crying in laughter whilst simultaneously shaking my head in confusion.

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This is one of the more comprehensible photos of the show. I believe it’s a giant robot with flashing multicoloured intestines..maybe? Whilst an Asian, dressed as a white-haired Axel Rose bangs on a drum. Analyse that!

Was it worth the money we paid for it? Objectively, probably not. It doesn’t matter. It is trashy, but it goes all out with it in all it’s glory. Yes, it might be too Americanised (there was genuinely a part where a giant, robotic, white eagle comes out to save the day), but it definitely feels like something you could only get away with in Japan. Above anything though, it has shown me something; it proves that you can, in actuality, polish a turd. And it is one gloriously entertaining turd to be a part of.

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These are our faces after we realised that we could control these robot arms. This is outside the ‘palace’. As you can see, words can’t describe my sense of astoundment.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Where is it
In Shinjuku district, which is one of the most popular places in Central Tokyo and a great place to walk around in. It is within walking distance from Shinjuku Metro station and if you have already visited Shinjuku area, you will have quite likely stumbled on it already.
The address is 1-7-1 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku. Does that make any sense to you? Didn’t you know that Japan have corner numbers instead of road names? Thankfully, their website shinjuku-robot.com gives you a Google Map to help you out.
When is it
There are up to four performances every day, with the main show starting at 16:00, then 17:55, 19:50 and the last one playing at 21:45. There are opening acts before each show starting up to an hour before the show and you are advised on to arrive there at least thirty minutes before showtime.
How much is it
The price for a ticket is ¥8000, which is currently equivalent to around $70, so it’s not cheap. If you want to see something ‘unique’, I would suggest it is definitely that. If you want to see something more ‘culturally accurate or appropriate’, it is definitely not that. It costs an extra ¥1000 for the meal. You might be thinking: “Wait, why haven’t you mentioned the food you get, since it says it is a restaurant?” We had already eaten thankfully, as this food is served on plastic dinner trays and did not look exactly like it would undoubtedly match up to Japan’s very high level of food quality. However, looks can be deceiving, especially in a country like Japan.
The Burning Questions You May Have
“Would you go again?”
It supposedly changes it’s “script” every few months, so there is always a reason to return for more of whatever it is I saw. For me, I think once is enough.
“Do you need to buy a ticket to get a go on controlling those weird B-Movie Robot Women in the picture?”
As far as I could tell, no. You will have to queue though. Please don’t act like seeing the possibility of being able to do this didn’t make you shamefully giddy. Now imagine actually getting to do it. Yeah, that awesome.

Blake Anderson James

Blake Anderson James started moving between countries from the age of fourteen and has been inspired by travel ever since. He spent a season living and travelling through South East Asia; he has explored South America and journeyed through most of Europe. He is an adventurous soul who enjoys activities such as scuba diving and anything that his body and budget will endure. If his humour is not evident enough from his writings, look out for him in the flesh because he loves to practice stand-up comedy whenever he gets an opportunity.

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