We are sad to share that The Robot Restaurant is temporarily closed as of October 2020 due to the spread of the coronavirus in Japan. Keeping our fingers crossed that it reopens in 2021.
You’ve been scouring the Internet for “what to do” to capture that full Tokyo experience that you so very much want on your upcoming trip and every site seems to give you a different list of ideas. Honestly, it’s hard to really narrow it down, Tokyo has so much to offer. However, if you’re looking for something a little zany, full of entertainment, and with a healthy dose of cheese on the side, The Robot Restaurant is sure to make the possibilities list.
The Robot Restaurant is an insanely colorful 90-minute show (preformed nightly at 1600, 1755, 1950, 2145) filled with a lot of lasers and neon lights and a little food. It’s filled with drummers, dancers (some fairly scantily clad), and dragons. It’s hyper-tacky, ridiculously flashy, and just about as gaudy as it gets. Simply put, it’s an incoherent show (yes, you read that right, any “storyline” is a little hard to come by), yet it still somehow perfectly scratches that crazy Tokyo itch.
So the big (and really pricey decision): Is the Robot Restaurant worth the money to attend first person or is a YouTube video enough of an experience? Well, it depends on what exactly you are looking for.
In our opinion, the show is not worth it at full admission price (this can be found on the not-very-straightforward official website, at the establishment’s ticket counter or by calling the business 03-3200-5500). However, we think it is worth it at the discounted rate offered through Klook or Voyagin.
Full price admission tickets are 8,000 yen for both adults and children (children under age 3 are not required to purchase a ticket). This price is reduced *slightly* if you opt to book online (still 7,500 yen isn’t exactly a great bargain). Online bookings can be made until 1700, however, after that you will need to inquire about making same day reservations. Note: The establishment has a very strict “no refunds” policy, so before booking make sure that you are able to attend.
So our advice? Steer clear of the official site and hop on over to either Klook or Voyagin for a discount. The tickets even through these vendors still aren’t “cheap,” but they are less expensive, so that’s a bit of a small win. Discounts have varied some over the years, but when we attended the show in 2018 tickets on Klook were being sold for 30% off the full admission price. We recommend snagging the cheapest ones available as the venue is small and every seat has a similar view.
To start we will go ahead and disclose that our babysitter for Miles fell through on the night we were planning on attending the show. Consequently, our plans for a (kid-free) date night for Dom and me changed when the babysitter had room for Penny, but not for Miles. Date night for three, puhlease?
Our adventure down to this area of Tokyo was easy with the help of Google Maps. Just plug Shinjuku Station into the app and hop aboard the ridiculously efficient Japanese train system. Once at the station, take the East Exit. From this exit, it’s ~10 – 15 minutes on foot to Kabukicho (the section of Shinjuku) where the restaurant is located. It’s impossible to overlook the gaudy entrance. I mean this place would fit right into Vegas!
Once outside the restaurant, you’ll see two giant robot statues. It’s kinda an obligatory photo op, so just climb on up and embrace it.
Across the street from the restaurant entrance on Sakura-dori (street) is the ticket counter. It’s here that you’ll bring your mobile voucher or printed out ticket to redeem. It’s good to note here that although you are preparing to head into a futuristic experience, the customer service desk is anything but that and operates at a much more antiquated pace. In short, the line is suuuuuppppeeerrrr sluggish, so definitely budget extra time for this process and be ready to wait *patiently* (I believe they suggest arriving ~30 minutes before showtime and based on this line alone that extra time is very necessary).
About 5-10 minutes before the beginning of the show you’ll be allowed inside to grab your seat making your way down a maze of narrow hallways that will give you a feeling of going into some crazy nightclub or down the rabbit hole into an insane futuristic Alice-in-Wonderland adventure. It’s hard to focus and all the gaudy, reflective surfaces surrounding you make for a disorienting experience.
Once down at show level, the “bleacher” seating is a wee bit tight overall, so just be ready to snuggle up to your neighbor a bit when you claim your assigned seats.
Now that you’ve got your seats, you’ll be able to order food. Note: we do NOT recommend purchasing food. A quick Google search will reveal that those that have opted to actually buy food at this “restaurant” have been sorely disappointed. We did opt to purchase some popcorn for the show, but would agree that the food we saw being brought out didn’t look impressive in-person either. Save your wallet. If you’re coming off a long day of sightseeing in Tokyo grab something at 7-11 or Lawson beforehand instead! And before you go scoffing at eating at a convenience store, try it, we think you’ll be impressed! Good quality for the price!
This time right before the show if you brought littles they will also be offered headphones to diminish the volume some. Take the headphones. Save their little ears. It’s loud.
And now the show…
The show itself is 90-minutes in length and made up of 3 – 4 “Acts” all approximately 10 – 15 minutes each. I originally tried to follow the storyline, but soon realized (very very early on) that there really isn’t one? So, without writing you a play-by play I think it’s best to just give you a few glimpses into the incoherent, glitzy, bizarre night. The photos speak for themselves, no?
Are you scratching your head already? That’s okay, we were doing the very same at this point in the show, too. To make things just a bit more confusing as well, robots (despite the name) aren’t really the star of the show. I mean they’re part of the gig, but certainly not the focus. The production is very much a mash of dinosaurs, fembots, robot battles, giant snakes and ninjas…all of which had costumes that (for the most part) had seen better days.
Like we mentioned previously, intermissions come in between the “acts,” and that’s when you’ll be able to leave to use the restrooms. If you wait too long to leave your seat, and the show starts up once again, you won’t be able to return until the next intermission – major bummer.
The show continues on…
Overall, outside of some cheese-y, corny robotic (ridiculous) violence the show is family-friendly. Some have sited in articles published prior to ours that in the past the show may have been different and over the years it has been tamed some. Maybe? Unfortunately, we don’t have that comparison for you. The show itself, however, is not G-rated, as there are some scantily clad anime-type lady dancers alongside some fight scenes, however, it’s nothing we felt uncomfortable taking Miles to experience. If your child, however, is sensitive to loud noises, flashing lights and easily overly stimulated this experience probably deserves a hard pass.
Additionally, if you opt to bring littles we recommend trying to get tickets for one of the earlier shows. Shinjuku (as a whole) is not the tamest area of Tokyo. Like we mentioned before…we really weren’t planning on having a third wheel on our date otherwise we would have tried to reserve the early tickets!
Bottom line: If you are looking for a bizarre experience in Tokyo it’s worth going and seeing the colorful 90-minute production for yourself. It is important to note, however, that this is NOT an authentic Japanese experience and it’s certainly not an accurate portrayal of traditional Japanese culture, although it does hit on some of the more modern anime-type themes. The show (in English) is designed specifically for a tourist audience. Some may turn their noses up at an experience that touts itself as one made for tourists, but we have learned through our travels that just because something is considered “touristy” does not necessarily mean it isn’t fun. We feel The Robot Restaurant fits squarely into this category.
We have an entire destinations page to come focusing on the attractions in Tokyo’s “Shinjuku” area, however, until that page goes live we recommend pairing your visit to The Robot Restaurant with a visit to Godzilla and the very informative Samurai Museum – both which we give two thumbs up!!
- Hours: 1600 – 2300, Phone: 1000 – 2200
- Admission: 8,000 yen/person at the counter (look for discounts online!)