Photographer Sachyn Mital recently returned from a visit to Tokyo, where he had the good fortune to spend an hour inside an utterly surreal "Robot Restaurant." Here's what he witnessed:
Tokyo has far more crazy cafes, bars and entertainment than just maid cafés. One of the most recent developments is a large entertainment center that was wildly expensive to produce and unlikely to arrive Stateside any time soon. Here, step inside the Robot Restaurant in the Kabuki-cho area of the Shijuku district.
The Robot Restaurant, which was recently featured on Anthony Bourdain's CNN show Parts Unknown, is a completely over-the-top amalgamation of everything that foreigners might envision when thinking of Tokyo: cute young ladies, giant monsters, neon lights and robots. All of these and more are present at this wildly popular, tourist-friendly destination.
The approximately one hour show (with three performances an evening) costs ¥5000, or almost $50 at the current exchange rate, per person (but supposedly some hotel concierges can get you a discount). Your assigned seat includes your choice of a fish or meat bento meal and a tea. The food is nothing special and you'd probably want to eat something nicer elsewhere, but it is a nice gesture. Alcoholic drinks can be purchased before the show in an upstairs lounge or during one of the scene change breaks during the show.
LED lights adorn most of the Robot Restaurant, from the lounge to costumes to the props. You'll be dazzled by the mirror-covered floors, the floor-to-ceiling screens and the jewel-covered everything else in the lounge. The "arena" for the show is down a few levels, and your first impression will be that it’s a tight fit for the action, especially when you see some of the giant fem-bots on the side. But they make it work.
We're told each show is different but they are all broken up into various scenes, and only one of those I saw had any semblance of a story. It involved invading (extraterrestrial?) robots who battle against pandas and animal deities. Beyond that, none of it made sense. A giant LED tank rolls in. Segway robots dance to Daft Punk. And girls in armored bikinis ride atop fem-bots. What more could you possibly want? Glowsticks? Those are included with admission.