May 25, Yoyogi Park
May 24, Yoyogi Park
Our newsletters get the best of Tokyo delivered straight to your inbox.
Tokyo hasn't seen anything like this since the Bubble Era. Every night in a basement in Shinjuku's Kabukicho district, bikini-clad women stage mock battles using enormous robots – though it's more steroid-enhanced fairground attraction than modern-day Gundam. Fitted out at a cost of ¥10 billion, Robot Restaurant looks like something straight out of Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void, all migraine-inducing neon, video screens and mirrors (and if you think that's bad, just check the website). Customers pay a ¥5,000 charge, but the Bubble Era comparisons end there: rather than massively marked-up Ballantines and Beaujolais Nouveau, the drink menu only extends as far as canned beer, chu-hai and bottled tea, sold at the kind of prices you'd expect at a baseball game. The entry fee also includes a bento box, though you'd find tastier fare in an average convenience store. There are three hour-long shows each night, in which the nubile staff take to the floor on giant robots, including a neon tank and enormous female 'borgs – complete with (literally) pneumatic busts. When Time Out visited, the customers seemed a little too gob-smacked to know what to do at first, but by the end they were waving their glowsticks like hardened para-para dancers. Give it a chance, and you might find yourself doing the same thing too.