The Samurai Restaurant at “Gira Gira Girls” opened in late 2023. Is it worth it or is it a cheesy knock-off of the famous Robot Restaurant?
Prior to the pandemic lock-downs, the Robot Restaurant was one of the most famous tourist attractions in Tokyo. People loved the quirky, over-the-top, energetic experience. Everyone I know told me I absolutely had to go to the Robot Restaurant when I visited Japan recently.
Unfortunately, the Robot Restaurant was one of the casualties of the pandemic. It closed during lock-downs, was briefly rumored to be scheduled for re-opening in the years following, and was confirmed closed in mid-2023.
If you’re going to Japan soon, however, don’t fret! The Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo is the replacement for the Robot Restaurant. I never got to experience the Robot Restaurant, so I cannot compare the two, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Samurai Restaurant in Tokyo. The Samurai Restaurant has got to be one of the most interesting themed show restaurants in Tokyo and maybe even the world – it was an experience unlike anything I’ve had before. Read on to find out why the Samurai Restaurant in Tokyo is absolutely worth it and why you need to add it to your Japan bucket list!
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What happened to the Robot Restaurant?
The Robot Restaurant closed as a result of the pandemic lock-downs. Japan was closed for years following COVID and only recently reopened in 2023.
But good news! The Samurai Restaurant is the re-imagined Robot Restaurant. It will now be a daytime show taking over Gira Gira Girls during the day when the venue is normally closed. The show is three hours long (+ a 1-hour pre-show!), including an intermission. The new stage is smaller than the Robot Restaurant stage, but don’t worry – the show is still a neon over-the-top experience.
Where is the Samurai Restaurant?
The Samurai Restaurant is in the Kabukicho neighborhood of Shinjuku, Tokyo, which is Tokyo’s equivalent of a red light district. Although there’s no adult content, the show is still 18+.
It’s a quick 4-minute walk from Shinjuku station so it’s super easy to access from anywhere in Tokyo. Other nearby landmarks include Omoide Yokocho, the Godzilla statue, the cute cat billboard, and Golden Gai. This means there are a ton of things to do before and after the show!
You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see a tall witch statue!
The Samurai Restaurant Experience
The whole Samurai Restaurant experience is unique. First, you walk in to a neon-bright room. The room almost feels mirrored because there is light refracting from everywhere. They’ll check you in and then take you down some trippy stairs to the show room.
Fair warning, if you are drunk, this may be a bit risky. Hold on to the handrails!
The doors open at 1 pm and the show officially starts at 2 pm.
The Samurai Restaurant Pre-Show
I showed up right at 1 pm and got really odd looks. The receptionists kept telling me I could come back later if I wanted, but when I said the ticket started at 1 pm, they awkwardly seated me.
Most people didn’t show up until 1:45 or even later – it was clear I was the odd one out. There were maybe 8 or so others seated ahead of me but they all seemed to be Japanese and know the performers.
I would wait until at least 1:30 to be seated. This should get you stage-side seats and enjoy some of the pre-show. The pre-show was just singing and some drumming, so it wasn’t bad – but it’s nothing like the main show!
The Samurai Restaurant Main Show
The main show at the Samurai Restaurant was like nothing I have ever experienced before.
There was some kind of story line – it was in Japanese, so I didn’t follow it entirely, but I think it was about one samurai taking power from another and gaining absolute power.
I promise you, though, you don’t need to understand the story to be entertained!
I can only describe it as neon musical meets parade meets drum show meets acrobatics meets dance party?? It was a ton of fun and totally surprising. I will post one video (even though I took many more!) to give you a taste, but this is best experienced in person:
Super weird, right? But where else are you going to get a neon samurai dance musical? You can check out availability below and book a ticket super easily!
I was worried that the show would feel really long since the main show is just under 3 hours with intermissions, but I thought the length was just about perfect. Frankly it was nice to sit for that long in Japan – I clocked 20,000 steps every day even if I didn’t try to walk a lot. A mid-day break was refreshing.
Food & Drinks at the Samurai Restaurant
When I purchased my ticket, I opted for the two drink package. The reviews only said the food was “meh” and I was not about to waste time in Japan with mediocre food.
My neighbors all got food and seemed underwhelmed. Because of that, I’d go for the drink package.
Here’s the menu! I got the sparkling sake and it was quite good.
What to do after the Samurai Restaurant Show
Once the show lets out, you’re sure to be hungry. I recommend going for a Shinjuku bar crawl with food. I took this one and it was so much fun. We had a lot of drinks but we had a TON of food – so much so that we started turning down food – so it was a great deal and an even better time. We were able to explore Omoide Yokocho, Golden Gai, and more with a local Japanese guide.
Was the Samurai Restaurant worth it?
Without a doubt. It was so entertaining and so unique. It’s a tourist trap for sure, but it’s an experience you won’t have in many other places. I plan to go back again whenever I return to Japan.