Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Adventure 32/50 : Robot Restaurant

A glance at the reviews for the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo on TripAdvisor is enough to see that people are highly divided. A lot of people love the crazy technicolor weirdness of it all, and see it as an enjoyable night out. Some people think it's fun, but want to make sure you know that the food is terrible and "there aren't many robots". And some people hate it ... "it's a tourist trap!"; "THOSE AREN'T ROBOTS"; "not sure it has anything to do with Japan"... but a good portion of those who do are upset that they arrived late and weren't allowed in.

Before we went to Japan we weren't sure whether we wanted to go. Yeah, it seemed absurdly kitschy, and most definitely a tourist trap. Some friends came back from their honeymoon and said they had fun, another friend was disappointed ... due to the lack of robots.

In the end, we thought it would be a fun thing to do on the night before we headed off to climb Mount Fuji ... something weird, kitschy, and time-limited.

We read the advice to buy your tickets in advance -- we booked ours online through Klook and paid about 30% less than advertised prices. ("Other services are available..."). We also listened to the advice not to bother with buying any food there. And we observed the required check-in times...  I suppose if you don't think you can arrive on time, don't take the risk and just buy your tickets at the door.

We arrived in the area -- we weren't sure where the actual entrance is, but you go to the box office across the street to get your tickets, and then to the entrance... Our tickets came with a "souvenir worth 800 yen" which made us laugh and laugh and laugh.

Yep, it's a pen.

We then went across the street where we were encouraged to take a photo...

... before heading into the "theater". First we took an elevator upstairs to the "preshow" area, a long and skinny space with some gaudy seats at one end, a stage at the other, and some tall bar tables next to the stage. The "preshow" consisted of a singer who appeared to be doing his best Rod Stewart impersonation, backed by a band primarily dressed as robots... and various dancers performing various skits.

Yeah, I don't know either.

Then we headed down to the "theater" itself, and found our seats. We were in the back row, but there are only three rows on each side and each one is raised above the others, so sightlines are very clear.

The theater is really a large open "street" with curtained off ends on either side, and the "show" is almost more of a parade with floats moving down and back. Before the show started there were little stands selling food, drinks, and merchandise. It's funny, some people complained about "being pushed to order food"... but all we saw was some signs noting that you could order food.

The first act started with a bang, and was my favorite one -- essentially a neon-lit taiko drumming battle between good and evil, with good spirits and demons trading control of a shrine. And it looked like this:

t was noisy and frenetic and colorful and fun. And I think it was the best part of the show.

There were 4 different "acts", each with an intermission between them. And each act was crazy and weird and funny... if some seemed to run a little long or be just plain weird.

There was a segment about nature fighting off man-made "demons" like pollution... I think...

... that ended with a giant cobra fighting off laser beams ...

... and swallowing the demon.

And then a neon-lit London double-decker bus filled with dancers in national flag sequin dresses!

Oh, and a bit with lasers and robots and glow-wire-clad dancers!

See, robot!

Later, glow sticks were distributed... NOT TO KEEP.

And the crowd dutifully waved them while the dancers come out and performed some more.

Wait, the bit international number with flags and dancers and glow sticks wasn't the finale? No? No! It was a battle between various types of marine life called FISH FIGHT!

And then it was over. We all filed out and climbed up the stairs, into the neon-lit Kabuchiko night.

Was it a tourist trap? Yep. Was it still worth seeing? Yeah. It was funny and weird, and very enjoyable. Not something you need to see more than once, obviously, but still very good fun.

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