Robot Restaurant: My Genuine Review (and How-To Get Discount)

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I’ve heard about the Robot Restaurant for a while and have walked past it a number of times during my trips to Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

It always seemed like a popular tourist attraction.

But at 8,000 JPY per ticket (approximately 70 USD) at the door, it was a bit too steep to go out of pure curiosity.

There’s good news:

Discounted tickets for the robot restaurant show are now available.

For now, focus on my review to see if it’s the show that you really want to see.

Showtimes (and Arrival Recommendations)

The Robot Restaurant has 4 different showtimes. And the first show is usually the cheapest to book.

A bit strange since all of the shows are the same.

So it’s probably due to Kabukicho as a whole being pretty quiet at this time of day.

The exact show times are:

  • 1st show – 16:00
  • 2nd show – 17:55
  • 3rd show – 19:50
  • 4th show – 21:45

However, you must arrive at least 50 minutes in advance.

Because:

  • You need to check-in your reserved ticket and exchange it for the official ticket.
  • The show is actually in a separate building than where you actually present your reserved tickets.
  • Robot restaurant management is very strict. No latecomers and refunds will not be provided.

So yeah, don’t be late.

How To Get To The Robot Restaurant

First, you need to exchange your reserved ticket at the main building, 1-7-7 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo, Japan.

From Shinjuku Station, look for the East Exit. From here, follow the simple directions on Google Maps. It is about less than a 9-minute walk.

You should know is that Japan as a whole doesn’t have named roads. So going to the venue will be very confusing if you will not use Google Maps.

Kabukicho is Tokyo’s most notorious red-light district. It is always extremely crowded and it’s easy to get lost if you’re a first-timer.

And you can be easily be distracted by many dirty Asian massage parlors and louche nightclubs blatantly advertised everywhere in the area.

Note: Kabukicho is not the best area to ask for directions. You will be most likely get invited to a sleazy bar or nightclub.

Is There A Dress Code?

Simple rule:

No sunglasses, already drunk customers, attention-grabbing outfits, or large wigs.

“Can I bring my kids?”

Regarding whether you can bring your small children or not depends on how well they behave.

The show, designed to be a sensation overload for adults, makes use of loud sounds and music and bright flashing lights, which could all prove too much for most children.

Couple that with the fact that you are actually in a red-light district, and it may not be the best place for you and your kids.

Ultimately, however, it’s up to you. Just don’t forget to be a responsible parent.

When your kid starts crying you better prepare your exit and accept the fact that you just lost your money.

Arrive 50 minutes In Advance And You Will Be Transported Here…

Robot Restaurant Cafe Lounge

While you wait for the Robot Restaurant show to begin, you will be escorted to a robot cafe and bar.

It is basically a lounge area for visitors who arrived early at the site.

The billion yen cost of the entire Robot Restaurant building and its giant Wi-Fi controlled robots is very evident in this lounge — intense color from ceiling to floor.

And look at those plushy tables and chairs.

The lounge alone is probably the reason why the ticket for watching the show is so expensive.

Get Ready For The Show Of A Lifetime

Wife and I while waiting to get inside
Wife and I while waiting to get inside.

Once the time comes to start the show, you’ll be escorted to the main theater.

There is food available in the main theater (you buy it along with your ticket).

I would suggest eating before the show, as the menu is very limited.

On the night we went, they were serving sushi in a bento box, but I’m not sure if they rotate the menu with other foods.

Inside there is popcorn for 300 JPY, along with beer, and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages starting at 500 JPY.

But these can only be purchased during intermissions.

Empty your bladder: 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.

So, with all the preface out of the way, here’s my review of Tokyo’s famed Robot Restaurant.

First Act: A Mix of Old and New

The show started with a highly entertaining traditional Taiko drum 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 dancers to join in on the music.

In all, the first routine was very fun and entertaining, and honestly, might have been my favorite act, but it did feel slightly out of place in a venue known as the “Robot Restaurant.”

Second Act: Robot Wars

Robot Wars

After an intermission, the second act was undoubtedly the weirdest thing I’ve seen during my 9 years in Japan!

This act was supposed to tell a story of sorts, which turned out to be ridiculously corny.

It 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 the war, where all the people and animals live in harmony when 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, which are 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 quite high-profile movies, and the characters used to depict the bad guys are almost all 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 (I guarantee they didn’t).

Third act: Giant Robots, Brazilian Carnival, Pole Dancing, etc.

Robot Restaurant Brazilian Carnival

The third and final act was the most entertaining, as well as perhaps the loudest part of the show, and is the act by 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 by Japanese dancers dressed up in Brazilian carnival costumes.

And 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 these were impressive, because it was amazing to me that they could pull off 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 one another 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.

Couple this with the fact that many of these same people controlling these machines are also dancing while driving, and it’s very impressive.

Final Verdict: Is It Really Worth It?

Wi Fi Controlled Giant Robots

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 JPY asking price.

That said, if you can manage to get the tickets at a cheap 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.

Robot Restaurant Shinjuku Tokyo Anthony Bourdain
In Memory of Anthony Bourdain.

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