After a indescribable 90 minutes, I rose from my seat overheated, overstimulated and completely drenched in my own sweat. Was it worth it? 100%
I have to admit I was most skeptical about this stop on our Tokyo itinerary. I figured Robot Restaurant would be nothing but an overhyped, half-assed, bawdy performance. I was wrong. Never in my life have I seen performers so dedicated to their character. These guys were serious. As serious as duelling robots and honey-eyed creatures can be.
Everything from start to finish was either so bad it was good, or so good it was phenomenal. The bad translations, cheesy story line and excessive use of theatrical fog set the stage for what Anthony called “the greatest show in the history of entertainment”. We stuffed ourselves with overpriced popcorn, tater tots and ice cream sundaes, all while soaking in the anime, carnival clash of a production. It was all we could have hoped for and more.
We could immediately see why Bourdain was so enraptured with Robot Restaurant. It went against every rule of what a show should be like.
Tips For Visiting Robot Restaurant
Book Ahead or Go Early
Robot Restaurant is one of the top attractions in one of the busiest cities on Earth. Plan ahead and go early.
It’s F***ing HOT
I don’t think you understand what HOT really feels like until you’re chained into a basement filled with sweaty dancers and steaming robotics. It’s hot. Really hot. So hot you will almost feel like you’re having a panic attack, but are too distracted by the show to fall victim to it. If I had to seriously guess the temperature, I would say it was around 30-32 degrees with absolutely no air movement. Everyone around me was rocking a glistening sweat moustache.
Wear COOL clothing. This is not the place for fancy attire. I learned my lesson. I wore a super cute, full length, silver maxi skirt. It wasn’t so cute after it was drenched in sweat.
Stay Hydrated… Kind Of
Because of the heat, you’ill be tempted by the glowing, strobing vodka drinks they sell during intermission. However, you might want to refrain. There are 2 super short bathroom breaks during the show and if you are female, you know the lines are just too long. The bathroom is small and crowded.
During the show, you are literally chained into your row, making a quick loo break completely impossible. There is no physical way to sneak out of your seat. Small bladders and frequent pee-ers beware.
Get a Good Deal
3rd party websites actually give out the best deals in this case, but don’t fall for their manipulation! We ALMOST spent an extra $20 per person to get ‘guaranteed first 3 rows’… until we got there and realized… THERE ARE ONLY THREE ROWS. Some of the booking sites have all kinds of ‘promotions’ that don’t save you any cash at all.
We found the best Robot Restaurant ticket prices on Expedia, but they didn’t allow to add things like front row or food. Voyagin allows you to add things like a Sushi bento box, popcorn, 1st row and more.
You can call and book direct, but the language barrier can be difficult depending who answers the phone. I’m not a fan of booking direct on their official site. It’s clunky and difficult to use.
You Might Not WANT 1st Row
Everyone says, “sit in the first row or don’t go at all!”, but I’m not sure I agree with that.
In order to sit in the front row, you have to be super careful with your snacks and drinks, not to mention your face. They have a entire safety tutorial at the start of the show that goes over front row safety.
They clearly state that if you see a robot coming towards you, you MUST ‘Move Back!’ or else you’ll basically suffer through decapitation.
That’s too much responsibility and audience participation for me. I was happy in the second row, eating my popcorn and watching the people in-front of me almost get impaled.
Don’t Go Hungry
The only ‘restaurant’ you’ll find here is the word on the sign.
We had heard rumours of the sub-par food, but decided it might be worth a try anyway. We figured we could just order bento boxes once we got inside if they looked good.
You can only pre-order them online OR at the ticket counter before entering. Once inside, there is no possible way to order a bento box.
However, there are 2 other opportunities to get over-priced snacks. Before the show they usher you into a bar that looks like Ed Hardy barfed all over the room. In completely unorganized chaos, they will have about 3 tater-tots and 2 other deep fried finger foods for approximately 100 guests. So unless you’re first into the room, you’re SOL.
Next, during one of the 4 intermissions, you can find snacks like popcorn, ice cream, and booze. Delicious, but not really filling. I was so hungry after the show that I found myself zombie walking into McDonalds and subsequently scarfed down a large fry and 20 chicken nuggets.
Eat before, or make plans to eat immediately after.
Get That Insta Shot
The Robot Restaurant venue is actually a difficult place to get a shot for the ‘gram. There are really only 3 opportunities I saw:
1- Be creative in the street outside of venue. There are lots of neon lights and people walking around
2- Get up to the bar (where you wait to go into the show) early. When the bar is empty, there are great places to take a pic. Once it fills up, it’s super crowded.
3- Instead of taking the elevator up to the bar, TAKE THE STAIRS! You will find yourself in an empty stairwell with tons of crazy neon art. This will give you time and space to get a unique pic without all the eyes on you.
There’s a Dress Code?
The website clearly states there is a dress code to enter, but in reality we saw certain parts were not enforced.
The dress code states: no sunglasses, no costumes or cosplay, no tattoos. While we didn’t see anyone trying to rock a costume or sunglasses, we did see PLENTY of guests with *gasp* exposed tattoos. I would say around 20% of the crowd had tattoos that were easily visible. Tattoos are still very much a sign of gang activity in Japan, but it seems like this is a changing mindset.
My advice on what to wear: Anything you will comfortable in sitting through a hot and sweaty show. Casual, comfy and cool.
You Should Go To Robot Restaurant
I thought it might be too touristy, I thought it might be too cheesy, but I went anyway.
I think you should too.
You won’t see a show quite like this anywhere else in the world. Take the above tips into consideration, book your tickets and enjoy having your kabuki senses rocked.