The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo is one of the most unusual and confusing experiences you’ll have in Japan. It opened its doors back in July 2012, and has become one of the most visited and talked about tourist attractions in Tokyo. On any given night, if you walk through Kabukicho in Shinjuku (one of the nightlife areas of Tokyo) you’ll see tons of tourists gathering outside, waiting to gain entrance to this incredible experience.
In this review, I’ll share my thoughts and give you tips and information on how to score discount tickets. In addition, I give you my recommendations for places to eat in Shinjuku near the restaurant. If you’ve read any other reviews, you’ll come to learn that the food at the Robot Restaurant is not great and you should eat before or after the show.
If you just need tickets, then get yours through Klook and save up to 35% on the regular price. Use offer code “KLKTDREX” to save an extra $4 USD off your first order.
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If you get your ticket at the door it’s ¥8000 ($75 USD) or ¥7500 ($70 USD) through the official website. I don’t recommend doing any of that. Get your tickets in advance through Klook and save yourself up to 35% on the regular price. Use our exclusive offer code “KLKTDREX” to save an extra $4 USD off your first order. We always get our ticket through Klook and highly recommend them.
The first show is at 16:00 (which I recommend for families if you decide to go) and is the cheapest, while the later performances are a bit more expensive.
Use the money you save to buy a meal before or after the show. I have my recommendations in the “Where to Eat” section.
If you asked me to describe the show in one word, I’d choose “insanity.” There’s no other way to explain it, but I mean this in a positive way. The show is something that words simply can’t describe. It’s 90 minutes of lights, lasers, robots, elements of Japanese culture, and dancers giving the performance of their lives.
The show itself is underground in a long, narrow room where there is seating on either side. You’re given glowsticks to use during the show to add to the plethora of lights (you don’t keep the glowsticks). Once the show begins, get ready for an experience that’ll leave you wondering, “Uh, did THAT just happen?”
I have no idea if there’s even a story, but when there’s loud electronic music, lights, and colourful displays flashing across the LCDs walls, you won’t care. The show is split into small segments — with a short intermission a few times for drinks — and each has its own theme. There are elements of Japanese culture during the show, with performers on Taiko Drums, and then parts that are impossible to comprehend that leave you with a sense of confusion.
During the intermissions, instead of getting an overpriced drink, head to the toilets and admire the gold urinals that would make Goldmember scream “Scheiße.” I can’t speak for the ladies restroom, but I imagine it’s just as ridiculous.
It takes a lot to make me think, “I have no idea what’s happening,” but this show does that multiple times and it’s hard to even recall specifics without going through the photos. A sensory overload is an understatement. One moment you’re in the middle of a Daft Punk-esque music video, and the next there’s a warrior princess on a snake battling an evil queen riding a Gatling gun to the death. Then out comes a 1950s Chevrolet Bel Air convertible with “Pop Idols” on the hood, belting out J-pop tunes. You honestly have no idea what’s coming next.
However, the sensory overload is an absolute blast and worth the price of admission. I’ve seen the show a few times over the years and have noticed changes. It’s now more focused on the tourist aspect with injecting more Japanese cultural elements. You’ll notice immediately that a majority of patrons are tourists. Locals don’t seem to frequent this show as much as they used to when it first opened.
The Robot Restaurant is in Shinjuku and found in Kabukicho. If you’re arriving at Shinjuku Station, take the East exit and continue north until you see the large Toho Building with Godzilla on it. From there you turn right and you’ll see all the signage for the Robot Restaurant. It’s easy to find.
Where to Eat
The Robot Restaurant does offer a meal while you watch the show, but I don’t recommend it at all. It’s overpriced for what you receive and there are tons of other excellent options in the immediate area. Shinjuku is a neighbourhood that I frequent most often, so I have a few restaurant recommendations near the Robot Restaurant. You’re able to get alcohol, popcorn, and other concessions during the break, but they are overpriced.
All the restaurants listed below are here on Google Maps for you to find easily.
Ichiran Ramen – You can’t go wrong with a bowl of ramen, and this chain is quite decent. Plus, it has an English menu. The best part is that you’re able to customise what goes into your bowl! This is perfect for those who are particular about what they eat.
Kamakura – Another ramen joint just across the way from Ichiran. While you don’t get to customise your ramen (they do have a vegetarian option, however) it’s cheap and does the trick. You order outside with a vending machine (it has English) and head inside to eat.
Kin no Kura – An Izakaya chain (Japanese pub) that offers a variety of food and drink. The inside is definitely not the nicest, but you go for the food and company. The food is cheap (there are tons of western options, too) and has an all-you-can-drink option that includes cocktails and beer. You order with a tablet that has English. Keep in mind that smoking is allowed inside.
Kushiya Monogatari – This is one of my favourite places to eat in Shinjuku. It’s an all-you-can-eat deep-fried skewer restaurant. For 90 minutes, you’re able to deep-fry as many skewers as you can possibly stomach right at your table. The restaurant has meat, vegetables, fish, and tons more. There’s also a dessert bar with soft-serve ice cream and a salad bar. It’s on the first floor of the Toho Cinemas Building (with the huge Godzilla on top). There are other restaurants here as well, including sushi and Indian Curry.
Saizeriya – This is a cheap, casual dining chain that offers Italian cuisine. Meals are easily under ¥1000 ($9 USD) for just a couple of items.
This is just a fraction of what’s found in Shinjuku in terms of food. There are also fast-food joints like Burger King, McDonald’s, and KFC in the area if you prefer. Don’t forget the Japanese convenience stores (7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart) that are always good for a quick and cheap meal.
For finding other places to eat, I highly recommend Tabelog. It’s one of the most popular websites/apps used to find great restaurants in Japan.
Is it Family Friendly?
The show features women dressed with lower-cut tops in certain scenes (meaning there is cleavage). But overall, the show is family friendly. Bear in mind that Kabukicho is the red light district and is not family friendly after dark (the area is safe overall, though). For families with younger children, I recommend watching the first show in the afternoon.
If you’re a group of guys, you’ll be approached by employees of establishments and invited into one of the many massage parlors (I won’t go into details, but you can guess). If you are in the area after dark and are with your family, you’ll be left alone.
During the day, this area is perfectly fine to walk through with your family. The main area near the Toho Building with the large Godzilla on the top has been cleaned up over the past few years. This is the area where you’ll find the Mario Kart VR, which I highly recommend for an afternoon of fun.
If you want a truly “only in Japan” type of experience, then add this to your list. The show is “extra” in every sense of the word and then some. You won’t be disappointed. It’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from visiting temples and shrines through the country but in a fun and mindless way. Sometimes we all need that. It makes for an incredibly different way to start off your night in Shinjuku or to end your day of sightseeing.
If you’re traveling to Japan, don’t forget my comprehensive list of practical tips for traveling to Japan. It makes your life easier while avoiding common mistakes and reducing your stress.
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