The Crazy Horse house of cabaret in Paris has a world renowned reputation for burlesque shows and entertainment. And Japan, not wanting to miss out on the fun as always, presents its very own crazy Robot Restaurant! It trips you through a quirky, vacuously surreal experience where robots and cosplay girls rule the world. It’s so stunningly out-of-this-world that you wouldn’t even know what hit you.
That night, we were having a stag party for a dear friend. And how better to celebrate his new phase in life than with pulsing neon lights, flashy J-pop electro beats, and gyrating she-borg warriors! Sadly the restaurant did not oblige to our prior request for a little something special for the soon-to-be non-bachelor. We arrived at Shinjuku and walked about 10 minutes to the address stated in the booking we’d previously made. Usually patrons can hang out at the bar above the restaurant before the show starts but we were running late (workaholics have no life!) and decided to check it out after the show. The place looked surprisingly clean and bright and was oddly reminiscent of a doctor’s office. This couldn’t be it… could it? We collected our tickets for the 7:50pm show and were then told to go around the corner to the real restaurant venue. Psyche! It was just a facade. Oh how the Japanese love to tease.
All excited and pumped up for the night, we rumbled over with the stag who had been bequeathed a tiara and a sash that had some inappropriate Japanese characters on it. We were hoping that the dancers would notice and give him that little something special! The entrance was pretty small, and we had to go down about 5 flights of stairs. It was a labyrinth of a way, and the walls were plastered throughout with neon printed wallpaper and figurines of skulls, lizards and birds of paradise in a mad psychedelic fashion. The air of anticipation was amped; I absolutely couldn’t wait to see what we had gotten ourselves into!
The room was long and patrons were seated on the benches along the side, facing the stage. It was funny to note that only a smidgen of them looked remotely Japanese. The walls behind the benches were LCD panels that were playing random animations of girls and lasers. Everyone already had a drink on the table; the lights went off! The first act rolled in with girls in rainbow wigs banging on taiko drums on a large wooden platform. They were padded in glittery garish outfits that somehow managed not to come off too ridiculous. Don’t you just love the outrageousness that is Japan?!
Following that was a senseless series of other acts involving totem-pole toting tribesmen, a cow and a fainting panda, a rubber looking shark, a burlesque military band (???), and robots of course! The final was a showdown between a warrior princess riding a huge dinosaur head and her nemesis who was standing astride on a machine gun tank, with us cheering them on with glow sticks. I assumed her to be a witch of some sort… The storyline seemed to be in the midst of a full-blown existential crisis meltdown.
The subsequent transition of facial expressions from interested, to confused, to dumbfounded, and then again raring to go, was comical. There was a short interval somewhere in between for us to come back to our senses (and also to use the drink coupon) before they got strewn all over pseudo-fantasy land again. We managed to get a shot of the stag with one of the feather boa dancers! And a bonus photobomb from a cheeky tourist reveller.
After the princess emerged victoriously and saved us all with her robot fleet, we went up to the bar lounge area. It was overwhelming to the eyes, to say the least. It positively reeked of gaudiness! The swiveling throne chairs had black and gold baroque theme patterns, and the walls were covered in mosaic glass, screens and mirrors. It was gold and glitzy everywhere, very befitting of a ghetto-bling Egyptian queen and her harem. I’d say it was a really special experience and is a must-go when visiting Tokyo; we had a hell of a blast! But it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime (as in you have to go but only just once) experience.
Kabukicho ” The Sleepless Town”