Cabaret madness in Tokyo's Robot Restaurant

I'M seated in a room deep underground in Tokyo's Kabukicho district.

A few metres in front of me a Japanese girl in a mermaid costume, astride the back of a giant neon shark, is fighting an evil robot.

It's a scene that might have astounded me 40 minutes ago. But in that time I've seen too much weird stuff to be shocked anymore.

I've been experiencing the crazy side of Japan at the famous Robot Restaurant.

The venue and its cabaret-style show is one of Japan's most bizarre attractions.

I had heard about it months before my girlfriend Michelle and I went to Japan, and I made sure it was on our travel to-do list.

Costing about $100 million to build, Robot Restaurant is a place of wonder and technology, an explosive spectacle of robots, glitz and lasers.

We convinced our friends Jodie and Nath, who were also vacationing in Tokyo, to join us.

The tickets cost about $60 but you get discounts on pamphlets. We ended up paying about $45 each.

The restaurant's exterior is eye-catching. It brightens up the street with flashing neon lights and two gigantic fembots out front.

When we went to the box office to claim our tickets, a staff member pulled us aside and asked if one of the girls in our group would like to be in the show.

Outside the robot restaurant in Tokyo.  Dazzling lights and outfits produce an amazing show experience.
Outside the robot restaurant in Tokyo. Dazzling lights and outfits produce an amazing show experience. PHOTO EDDY MILFORT

We nominated Jodie, not really understanding what was in store for her.

We were invited to wait in the restaurant's upstairs lounge, where everything is mirrored and shining. We sat in gold shell swivel chairs upon rainbow-coloured carpeting with a robot dinosaur on each table.

On stage, a woman in a metallic bikini and angel wings played soft lounge music.

As you take in the surreal atmosphere you can grab a pre-show drink and meal.

Once the theatre was ready, we descended about five levels underground, took our seats and awaited the spectacle.

The 90-minute show began with bikini-clad girls playing Japanese drums on brightly lit mobile platforms, spinning around the stage.

From there it descended into utter insanity.

Firstly, there was a bout between robots and animals which culminated in a knock-off Kung-Fu Panda riding a bull through a line of robots.

Then two women sang a Japanese song while saddled on mirrorball-skinned horses.

Then Jodie appeared. She was pulled from the audience, fitted with oversized boxing gloves and made to fight a giant robot.

She won, though I think the fight may have been rigged.

More battle scenes followed, with evil robot aliens taking on women on giant snakes, sharks and other creatures. At one stage a giant neon tank rolled out.

The show is pointless, hilarious and entertaining in equal measure.

It culminated with giant fembots being driven by some dancers while robots danced and rode scooters around them - all to the soundtrack of Gangnam Style.

The acts apparently change frequently, so there is no telling what you might see. Just be prepared for anything.

There is a reason why Robot Restaurant has become so popular - it's flat-out awesome. If you want a Japanese experience like no other, check it out.

Robot Restaurant

There are generally four shows a day at 4pm, 5.55pm, 7.50pm and 9.15pm - though show times may change.

The reservation centre is open from 9am - 10pm.

The restaurant is located at Shinjuku Robot Bldg. B2F, 1-7-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku.

To get there, it's a five-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station East Exit or five-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Shinjuku-sanchome Station Exit B12.

Visit shinjuku-robot.com for more details.



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