For the evening I had bought tickets in advance online for the crazy Robot Café Show in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-Cho.
I had seen plenty of photos and videos from friends and online. It looked like the kind of show that would only be able possible to stage here in Tokyo. I had not been sure if it was the right thing to go to with an 11 year old but after reading a few comments online I had decided to give it a go and find out for ourselves.
I have always found Shinjuku station a bit confusing with all the different train lines and exits, plus miles and miles of tunnels. You can walk for perhaps 2 or 3km underground literally from one stop east or north of the station to one stop south or west, and with all the shops in the underground passages it is easy to get lost. It is perhaps the busiest station in the world in terms of numbers of passengers per day.
This time we quickly found the right exit and got out into the mayhem of Kabuki-Cho. This part of Shinjuku is famous for its bars, restaurants and entertainment clubs. There are neon lights and signs on every building which make it easier to find what you are looking for. It is unusual for us foreigners to find restaurants and shops on each floor of a building, in Europe almost all shops and restaurants are located at street level apart from in some department stores or malls. In Tokyo you see businesses on every level advertised in bight colours or on the entrance boards.
The Robot Café was not that hard to find and once we had collected our tickets (6.800 Yen per ticket) for the show we crossed from the ticket booth to the entrance.
Outside the entrance were two huge robots, which you could climb onto and have your photo taken as a souvenir. It also gave us an idea of what we were about to experience.
Walking into the building we entered a bright hallway with many lights leading us into the bar below.
The bar is, most likely, the fanciest and most over the top bar ever, gold swivel chairs, enormous chandeliers and mirrors from floor to ceiling. Our eyes did not know where to look at first; it was a complete sense overload. It felt like being in Gaspar Noe’s film “Enter the Void”. Every ticket includes a first drink free so we collected our drinks and took a seat to listen to the “robotic” guitar players. Jerome and inspected the two robots near the door that give you instructions.
About 15 minutes before the start of our show – there are normally four shows every day – we were guided down steps to the basement showroom. It is worth knowing the steps down are near the bar end. We took our seats in the front row and waited for the show to start. The first act was bikini-clad girls playing the traditional Japanese Taiko drums. Afterwards we saw a laser show and then finally the first giant robots came out.
Initially Jerome seemed to be annoyed by the very loud music, but they did provide ear covers for children. We had thought Jerome might be the only child, but there were a range of others, and certainly most over 11 year olds would enjoy the craziness and robots. One part of the show could be quite scary for younger children as it included a giant shark robot, smoke coming out of its mouth and there was a lot of play fighting going on.
Half way through the show we were all given glow sticks and encouraged to wave and cheer with the robots and dancers. We did not notice how fast time flew by and the show came to its end. It was definitely an incredible show to watch, just once is probably enough though! We did feel though that some of the robots and costumes looked a bit dated and should be updated or renewed soon.
Most parents would probably not consider Kabukicho an appropriate place to go with children in the later evening, but you always have the option to go for the afternoon show and come out just as the neon lights up. Check their website for dates and times as they may vary from day to day.
Back outside Kabukicho was getting busy with people heading out for dinner or a drink and it took us a while to adjust back to normality after this crazy but wonderful show.