Translated by Shannon McNaught
Shinjuku's Robot Restaurant: Technology and Entertainment
Written by OsawaKimie
We bring you Shinjuku's revolutionary Robot Restaurant, where entertainment meets technology!
Have you heard about the restaurant that's gaining all sorts of attention from visitors to Japan in Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho? It's the one that's all over the news: The Robot Restaurant.
Though it's called a restaurant, it's not solely for eating. It's an entertaining atmosphere where you can watch performances by robots and dancers, all while enjoying a meal.
We'll give you the full run-down of this new Shinjuku hotspot, from buying a ticket to details on the show.
Avoid the Long Queue and Reserve Your Tickets
Kabuki-cho has been named "the town that never sleeps" since it's most active at night. This building captures the eye all the more. The neon-lit Robot Restaurant is about a 10-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station's East Exit. It's only open for the four shows it holds daily (16:00-, 17:55-, 19:50-, 21:45-). It'd be a good idea to get your tickets ahead of time since seats sell out very quickly on the weekend.
You can buy same-day tickets if there are any openings at the ticket machine outside. 30 minutes before this show, there was a long line of people hoping to get their hands one of these prized tickets.
Tickets are 7,000 yen each. If you reserve tickets online or over the phone, you can add on an obento meal for 1,000 yen extra. There are days when same-day tickets aren't available. Which is why it's better to pick the day and time you want to go and order tickets ahead of time. By the way, you'll get a special deal if you reserve by phone (English available)!
The restaurant's friendly staff will greet you at the reception. Even if you reserve tickets, you still need to print out your ticket before the show, so we recommend getting there about 30 minutes before showtime. You can't show up even a little late. Make sure you get there on time!
There's a vending machine that will print your ticket next to the reception counter. Tourists don't have to fret since all the instructions are written in English.
There are also free lockers available for those with a lot of luggage in tow. They're very accommodating to foreign visitors since they make up between 70-80% of customers.
We saw this autograph from Katy Perry, a popular American singer, while we were waiting in line. Among other celebrity autographs and photos adorning the walls are ones from stars like Tim Burton.
The Stunning Waiting Room
Now that we've gotten our ticket, it's time to take the elevator to the waiting room.
When the elevator doors slid open, we were dazzled by the brightly-lit space. Everything from the shell-shaped sofas to the sparkling decorative lights makes you feel as if you've stepped into another world.
There's a drink counter by the elevator while you can sip your favorite drink while drinking in the magnificent atmosphere. No credit cards are accepted here, though - just cash.
The whole menu is available in English. There are soft drinks available along with alcohol.
While we were lounging on the sofas in this otherworldly place, we were treated to a performance by a pro musician. The beautifully resonant tones of the violin soothe one's heart.
More and more people started to come in. Everyone's heart starts to beat just a little faster. It's almost showtime.
To the Show Room!
An announcement for us to move to the show room comes on right before showtime. We're instructed to go down the stairs of a gorgeously-decorated stairwell.
It's said the Robot Restaurant cost one billion yen to build. You just have to observe every detail and decoration of the place.
We've arrived at the showroom. We take a look at our ticket numbers before sitting in seats on either side of the stage.
You can buy some popcorn to munch on if you're feeling a bit peckish. Note that they only accept cash.
Image courtesy of Robot Restaurant
These are the two types of meals you can order before the show starts. The contents of each meal may change depending on the time of year.
Act 1: The Female Warrior Wadaiko Drum Performance
We were anxiously awaiting the show's start when the room suddenly went dark. The booming echoes of huge taiko drums reverberated throughout the room. The show had finally begun!
Accompanying the wadaiko drums was a guitarist that looked like a tengu (a Japanese monster known for its red face and long nose. It's also seen as a mountain spirit). By the way, you are free to take as many photos as you want (flash not permitted).
Then came the "Josen Dancers," dancers dressed as female warriors that moved entrancingly to the beat of the taiko drums and guitar.
Owner Namie Osawa said from the start of the Robot Restaurant that she "wanted to create more chances for women to dance in front of people." Which is what makes this place an entertainment venue not just for seeing robots, but also an enlivening performance by equally energetic dancers.
Act 2: The Battle of the Robots
A bit of a change from the refreshing atmosphere from before, Act 2 began with a change in lights and a stream of smoke: "The Battle of the Robots!"
The battle of dinosaurs and savage beasts looks like it was taken straight out of a sci-fi movie. You won't be able to take your eyes off of this war set to a story.
Act 3: A Spectacular Vocal and Rhythm Performance
In Act 3, we got to hear famous movie theme songs! You'll be captivated by the singing voice of the vocalist riding on a robot and the rhythm section leading them.
Act 4: The Graceful Hymn Dance
Before we knew it, half the show was already over. Act 4 featured robots entering slowly to a hymn playing in the background.
The robots, some ranging over 3m in height, come right next to the customers. That's what makes the Robot Restaurant so special; robots so close that you can touch them.
Act 5: EL Dance Time
The peaceful spell of the hymn was broken by a staff member handing something out to customers.
They were neon-colored penlights! We all wondered what was coming next.
The tempo quickened and out came dancers that created illusions with light. The perfect performance drew applause from the band before the curtain fell.
Act 6: The Robot Dance
The female dancers came back for the last show of the night. Their smiles were almost as brilliant as their costumes.
Soon enough, the 3m tall robots were beckoned onto the stage. The Robot Restaurant made you feel like you weren't just watching the show; you were a part of it. The crowd became one while waving their penlights in the air, energy at max.
This restaurant is the perfect expression of the big city, Tokyo, and the country of technology, Japan. Become one of the lucky crowd in the show!
For MATCHA Readers Only! 5% Discount Coupons!
MATCHA's readers benefit from a 5% discount service on their purchase of activity tickets from the Voyagin website. Upon performing your online payment, please insert the discount coupon code "voyaginmatcha". You will receive a 5% discount on your purchase! (This service does not apply for Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea)
Purchase tickets from Voyagin here
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-7-1 Shinjuku Robot Bldg B2
Business hours: 3:00pm-11:00pm
Credit cards accepted: Only when purchasing tickets. Drinks and snacks are cash only.
Main languages: Japanese, English
Other languages available: Yes
Nearest station: Shinjuku Station (JR Yamanote Line, JR Chuo Line, JR Sobu Line, JR Saikyo Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line
Access: Five minute walk from Shinjuku Station's East Exit
Price range: 7,000 yen onwards
Official website: Robot Restaurant