Crossroads Japan

Behind the scenes at Tokyo's Robot Restaurant

Kate Springer, CNNUpdated 15th September 2017
Editor's Note — Video produced by Black Buddha
(CNN) — Dinosaurs, laser lights, cabaret and robots... lots of robots.
One of Tokyo's top tourist attractions, Robot Restaurant, in the Shinjuku nightlife district, is one of the wildest shows on earth.
The fantastical performance venue opened in July 2012, quickly garnering an international reputation.
Blaring pop music fills the room, warrior princesses fight 10-foot-tall transformer robots and sequined bikinis ricochet laser beams into every corner.
But how does this carefully orchestrated chaos come together? We took a behind-the-scenes tour.

Behind the scenes

Robot Restaurant: A dancer rides a robot into battle at Robot Restaurant, located in Tokyo's Shinjuku nightlife district. The cabaret-style shows include bikini clad futuristic dancers, performers dressed as robots and a host of large scale robots -- all in a laser-lit room.
As you descend the technicolor stairwell into Robot Restaurant, it's like stepping into an alternate realty.
It only gets wackier from there.
The robot show might seems like total chaos, but the high-voltage performance is actually a carefully planned routine that requires weeks of preparation.
Behind it all? A professional dance troupe who rehearse around the clock to perfect the complicated routine. They master everything from dancing to drumming, pole dancing and robot riding.
"As a performer, I try to convey a routine in a way everyone can understand its youthful emotion," says Namie Osawa, show director of Robot Restaurant.
Though the storyline might be hard to follow, Osawa usually separates the 90-minute show into several acts with breaks in between.
It all culminates in an epic battle between warring robot armies -- pop music blasts, lasers strobe, and dancers flying every which way.
"I think it's great how people smile during the show and even during breaks, or when we look at each other and really feel the enthusiasm from one another, says performer Kumin Hankokkou.
"The rehearsals are difficult but I enjoy that we work together to achieve the next level."

What's for dinner

Dancers perform on large scale "female" robots.
The name Robot Restaurant is a bit misleading.
While there's popcorn as well as three dinner items up for grabs -- think sushi bento boxes and marinated beef -- the food is not as captivating as the performances.
Since Tokyo is inundated with amazing restaurants, we'd recommend saving your appetite for a feast elsewhere.
After all, trying to navigate a box of sushi while a giant shark is attacking a robotic horse that's wrestling a kung-fu panda on a Segway isn't exactly the easiest feat.

A few quick tips

Inside the men's bathroom at Robot Restaurant.
You'll probably want to capture every moment of the fantastical experience -- and we don't blame you.
But travelers will need to leave professional equipment at home. Smart phones and smaller devices are totally fine but large cameras are prohibited.
As for booking, we'd advise planning ahead.
There are only three performances a day and tickets often sell out.
To secure seats, travelers can buy tickets online for about $73 each or ask their hotel concierge to make a reservation.
Even with a ticket, you can't waltz right in. There's an office across the street where you'll need to pick up the physical tickets.
And after the show? Guests will have a chance to roam around the stage and pose for photos with the robot stars.
Robot Restaurant, 1-7-1 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo, Japan; +81 3 3200 5500
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