The famous Robot Restaurant in Tokyo’s Shinjuku has quickly risen to be one of the quintessential experiences when visiting the Japanese capital. A microcosm of what foreigners expect from modern Japanese entertainment, the 1.5 hour show is full of things bizarre and distinctly Japanese, like what one would expect to jump out from a comic book.
Despite the name, robots only make up a tiny part of the Robot Restaurant. The show is a mix of mythical creatures, Moulin Rouge-style dancing, Japanese festival imagery as well as religious folklore.
This guide aims to show you what to expect from the Robot Restaurant without giving too much of the show away, tips on how to get there as well as where to find the cheapest tickets available for the Robot Restaurant (hint: buying direct is actually more expensive!).
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The nearest metro/train station from the Robot Restaurant is Shinjuku Station with the nearest exit being B12B or the Shinjuku M-Square Exit.
From there, head north until you reach Yasukuni-dori Avenue. From there, you will see the arch that says Kabukicho Sakura-dori Street. This is the street leading to the Robot Restaurant.
From that arch, the Robot Restaurant is around a block away. You will know you are there when you see the big sign with the name. Entrance will be at the right but you will need to register first on the building at the left.
In case it gets busy, folks who bought their tickets via Klook get a separate line. I arrived around 45 minutes prior to show and saw no one ahead of me.
After showing them my voucher, I was handed my actual ticket, souvenir as well as meal and drink coupon. I then proceeded to the main building and took the lift to one of the higher floors for the pre-show.
The pre-show is done cabaret style featuring a lot of singing and dancing in both Japanese and English. Those who arrive early enough for the pre-show can actually grab one of the limited number of seats. Otherwise, there are also high tables that guests can occupy.
There is a bar in the pre-show area which accepts redemption of the free drink. The bartender then got me to choose from the special drinks menu which includes a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Otherwise, it is also possible to purchase drinks here. If you fail to exchange your drink coupon here, it is also possible to do so at the main show area.
Around 20 minutes before show time, the pre-show ended and the ushers quickly pointed us to the main show area. The main show area is actually located in the basement and can be accessed via a few flights of stairs or the lift.
The main show area is a relatively compact room with chairs at either side for guests. There are around three rows of chairs with the rear most one offering the highest view. However, the best seats are those in front as these allow for easier access.
I presented my food coupon to one of the ushers who then gave me my meal for the show. There are quite a few packages available including those without food, or those with snacks. The highest-priced one comes with a bento meal and bottled water.
One important thing to note is that the show changes from time to time so I am not going to give a detailed write-up here of what the show is about. As I visited in October, the show I attended came with Halloween elements, with the cast even dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at one point.
Tips for the Show
- Guests are advised to arrive around 30 to 45 minutes earlier than the show time and show organizers do officially state that late-comers will not be admitted. However, I did spot a few people who came about 5 minutes before the show started and were still admitted. Still, there are benefits to coming early including getting to enjoy the pre-show. This is held at one of the higher floors of the building.
- Excluding the pre-show, the main show lasts about 1.5 hours and comes with 3 intermissions. The first is the longest one. If you are sitting in one of the middle rows, you might find it a bit inconvenient to go for toilet breaks.
- Despite the “restaurant” in the name, the Robot Restaurant can’t really be considered one. That said, tickets can be booked as a bundle with meal and it’s also possible to purchase snacks during the intermissions.
- Photography is allowed, without using flash. You’re better off using your smartphone for taking photos rather than a bulky camera in view of the limited space available per seat.
Where to buy cheapest tickets
There are 5 show timings for the Robot Restaurant and they are as follows:
- 13:00PM (enter at 12:30PM)
- 15:00PM (enter at 14:30PM)
- 17:30PM (enter at 17:00PM)
- 19:30PM (enter at 19:00PM)
- 21:30PM (enter at 21:00PM)
The afternoon timings tend to be slightly cheaper with the price going up for the 17:30PM show onwards.
As of this writing, Klook seems to have some sort of preferential partnership with the Robot Restaurant, even having a dedicated lane for registration. After checking around, they also have the most competitive prices, offering packages from the most basic – meaning admission without any food to ones with full bento box packages. Their prices are up to 40% cheaper compared to purchasing on the spot. You can purchase tickets here. To my knowledge, theirs are the cheapest tickets available on sale.
Also, I don’t know whether it was pure coincidence but I was assigned a seat in the front row (my ticket was incidentally also booked through Klook) even though I only availed of the popcorn meal along with admission to the show.
Verdict – Is the Robot Restaurant Worth It?
The audience during the show I attended seemed to love it, and were cheering and singing along by the end. If you have limited time in Tokyo and are curious to see one of the weirder sides of the city (and of Japanese modern culture in general), then the Robot Restaurant helps to fulfills that to an extent. It is loud, brash, colorful and visually arresting at the same time. My past 5 visits to the city focused more on temples, parks, food and shopping so getting to check this out was a nice contrast.
B2F Shinjuku Robot Building
Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Book cheapest tickets here