Friday 1 November 2019

Dazed by the Robot Restaurant, Tokyo

On this trip I was assisted by the Japan National Tourist Organisation.

On my visit to Japan last year, I bought a ticket to the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo's Shinjuku nightlife district.

This live show is something of a tourist trap, but also very Japanese in its combination of music, bold characters, and Japanese legends. Audience members sit in facing sections on each side of the room, as the loud and flashy action happens between them.

Afterwards I jotted some notes on my phone as I sat in the Deathmatch in Hell bar in the nearby Golden Gai enclave, trying to make some sense of the experience as I became progressively more intoxicated by shots of Japanese whisky (666 yen each!).

Here are those notes, and some photos I took. See if you can make sense of them.

First act. Loud, bright, vibrant and noisy. Opening sequence revolves around drummers on brightly lit floats, dressed with a suggestion of demonic robots or robotic demons.

They gyrate around as music plays, lights flash and drums beat, coming within a few centimetres of audience members in the front row, who need to lean back in order not to be hit. It's loud and lively.


Between the short snappy acts are intervals, in which the restaurant flogs drinks and souvenirs while setting up for the next act.

Second act. A future in which the robots have taken over, but are then fought by guardians, including a giant panda. Basically it's an anime movie played out live.

Third act. The king of the robots, a huge silver thing, dominates the stage.

Fourth act. A wild, colourful extravaganza that resembles a Brazilian carnival more than anything robot related. Lively, exuberant, over the top.

I hope that's clear. It was wild. Tokyo-style.

Find details and make bookings at the Robot Restaurant website.

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