Walking down the streets of Shinjuku, illuminated signs for bars and street food litter the walls of the alley way. Girls dressed in cosplay hand out flyers for drink specials and take cutesie pictures with tourists for them to post on Instagram for the jealous likes. My friend calls my name and pulls me through a small brightly lit door where I’m greeted by a tall, beautiful robot woman that leads me down the stairs.
When I was planning my trip to Tokyo one of the most recommended things to do from my friends was to go to the Robot Restaurant. This sounded both amazing and ridiculous, all I kept imagining was Rosie from the Jetsons serving me food. I couldn’t have been more off.
As Americans we tend to have a certain idea of what Japanese culture is like: girls in school-girl outfits, Pokémon, Godzilla, and robots. We imagine kitschy designs and hi-tech devices are part of the norm in Japanese everyday life which makes places like the Robot Restaurant all that more appealing to tourists.
Being led down the winding halls and stairs you see pop art, bedazzled walls, a dazzling spectacle of flashing lights, all moving you forward to the main event. Below you can see the snaps I took on our journey down.
An elevator brings you down to the basement floor where the room opens up to what appears to be a runway with raked seating on both sides of the room and chain barriers that separate what would be the audience from the performers. There is a small stand where a woman dressed in sexy ninja attire is collecting orders for drinks and snacks; while it is called “Robot Restaurant” this term is used loosely when it refers to food. We grab a few fruity drinks and settle into our seats as the lights are dimmed.
All at once, drumming, lights and smoke fill the room as our first robot warrior emerges from the shadows. Like a Medieval Times on steroids, we watch as girls and guys dressed in cosplay act out battles between these monsters using whips, swords and “magical objects” to defeat the evil spirits and cast them back from which they came. The room came alive with cheering and booing from the audience for each of the robot warriors making the experience like a football game.
We left exhilarated! The show was as if they brought anime cartoons to life. Each new monster was more fantastical than the next; more lights, more metal, more weapons than the one before, each one being defeated by the “good guy”. The whole performance seemed geared towards the tourist, playing on their mood and fascination with the Japanese culture that we are familiar with. It made it easy for the tourist to connect and enjoy.
With all this said, I highly recommend going! It’s like going to the Moulin Rouge, or seeing the Rockettes perform; it’s a tourist attraction that you can’t see anywhere else.
Remember to keep up with my daily adventures on Instagram! Safe travels!