The new Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku takes all of Japanese culture and distills it into one fabulous, frantic show with dance, music, and more than a few monsters. This new Tokyo must-see will soon be a favorite among visitors looking to see Japan’s crazy side.
A New Shinjuku Destination: The Samurai Restaurant
Neon lights, flashy outfits, live music, sword fights, dancers striking taiko drums, and all the drama of Japanese legends: rising from the ashes of the Shinjuku Robot Restaurant, the brand new Samurai Restaurant has taken inspiration from every possible source to create something fresh and fun out of Japan’s ancient culture. This new destination in the bustling Shinjuku neighborhood offers an entire afternoon of entertainment, drawing from the wide variety of wild art and performances Japan is known for, and condensing it all into an ever-changing show featuring costumed dancers and fantastic set pieces. Fans of the now-defunct Shinjuku Robot Restaurant were sad to hear of its closure during the covid pandemic, but travelers in Japan looking to experience the same kind of excitement and exaggerated Japanese culture in Tokyo will find a great replacement in the new Samurai Restaurant, which has some of the same producers and clearly borrowed a little of that same flashy style. Drawing on Japan’s ancient culture and samurai traditions for inspiration, Tokyo’s new Samurai Restaurant has created something new and unique by combining old and new into a high-energy performance that’s hard to describe as anything other than “crazy.” We’d be surprised if the Samurai Restaurant doesn’t soon become a standard part of any trip to Tokyo.
What’s the Samurai Restaurant All About? Just Ask the Manager
At the Samurai Restaurant’s pre-open preview performances, the Japankuru team not only got a glimpse of what’s to come, but we also got an exclusive chance to talk with company president Mitsunari Hashimoto and some of the other staff involved with getting the restaurant started. So what exactly inspired the Samurai Restaurant? Well, Hashimoto says it wasn’t just one thing, but that they wanted to “borrow from spectacles of all kinds, like the traditional culture of ninjas, kabuki, and other Japanese performance arts, but also productions without performers, like the most cutting-edge aquariums and installation art.” The unique team behind the Samurai Restaurant has all the talent and ambition, they say, “to go above and beyond, push the boundaries of showmanship in Japan, shock the audience each and every time, and do what other performances can’t.” Even the name “Samurai Restaurant” might seem simple at first, but Hashimoto will tell you that it was chosen to reflect one of the major themes of the show: take the most iconic symbols of traditional Japanese culture, and make them bigger, bolder, flashier, and a lot more entertaining than reality. Where else would you find samurais in rainbow wigs and covered in glitter and rhinestones? This is the Samurai Restaurant, in the heart of Tokyo’s wildest entertainment district, Kabukicho, and they don’t do things by halves.
When it comes to the Samurai Restaurant’s plans for the future, Hashimoto is clear in saying “I might be the president, but the Samurai Restaurant is community-run, and everyone involved in the performance gets a say in where things are going. When someone has an interesting new idea, we’ll go for it, put it together immediately, and see how things work out. In the end, it’s all about the audience reaction, so we want to maintain that flexibility and innovation. The Samurai Restaurant show of today probably won’t be the show of tomorrow, let alone a few months down the line!” With so many creative minds involved in this performance with a focus on breaking new boundaries, the Japankuru team is certainly excited to see where the Samurai Restaurant team takes things in the future!
Plan Your Visit to the Samurai Restaurant
While the Samurai Restaurant has plans to move to its own dedicated location in the future, it’s currently operating as “Samurai Restaurant Time” by taking over the stage at Shinjuku’s Gira Gira Girls bar during the afternoon. Because of the venue, the Samurai Restaurant will only be accessible to guests 18 and over (so bring your ID), but the show itself is not necessarily adult in nature. To find the Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho neighborhood, just search for the colorful entrance underneath the Gira Gira Girls/Samurai Restaurant sign, across the street from the Family Mart convenience store. Head inside and the staff will welcome you in and guide you down the funky staircase to the stage downstairs.
Samurai Restaurant Time at Gira Gira Girls (サムライレストランタイム＠ギラギラガールズ)
1-7-7 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 13:00 – 17:30 (closed Thur/Sun)
Admission: 9,000 yen in advance / 10,000 yen day-of
Official Reservation Page (en)
Samurai Restaurant Time at Gira Gira Girls lasts all afternoon, and guests are welcome to stay the whole time. The samurai extravaganza starts at 13:00, and the main show begins at 14:30, combining ancient Japanese themes and modern technology in a fantasy world all its own. On the screens behind the stage, jumbles of colorful imagery present a series of mysterious and magical settings, with both English narration and subtitles. Up front, dancers in glitzy costumes perform choreographed moves, ride upon moving set pieces that slide across the stage, beat taiko drums that rove back and forth in wheeled vehicles, and engage in sword fights straight out of a martial arts movie. It’s the kind of show you’ll only ever find in Japan, and somehow it fits right in, located in the middle of Shinjuku’s Kabukicho neighborhood. The whole thing is divided into a series of performances separated by short intermissions, each one featuring a different mix of music, dance, and storytelling. From start to finish, Samurai Restaurant Time at Gira Gira Girls lasts from 13:00 to 17:30, which means you can spend as long as 4 ½ hours there hanging out and enjoying the show.
Food Fit for a Samurai
Is it really a restaurant? The question is common enough at many of Japan’s themed restaurants and cafes, which often offer shows and entertainment without much in the way of food and drinks. Fortunately, the 9,000 yen admission fee (for advance reservations) at the Samurai Restaurant really does include a selection of food and drink options, and guests can also order additional drinks and snacks from their seats. Call it a late lunch!
The most substantial meal options are the Samurai Restaurant’s bento boxes, which need to be reserved ahead of time when purchasing tickets. While options might change in the future, current bento meals include a Japanese-style spread of small bites, a steak and rice meal, and a sushi platter (the Japankuru team’s favorite). Customers can also choose items off the in-store menu instead of a bento box – either ramen, udon noodles, or even two drinks (including alcohol) for anyone who isn’t particularly hungry. Access to the whole Gira Gira Girls menu means that there’s a wide variety of snacks and drinks available, so there’s plenty to enjoy during the 4 ½ hour show! (The popcorn buckets, among other options, are pretty impressively huge!) Just be careful: advance ticket reservations (and the food that comes with them) can be paid for with a credit card, but any additional food or souvenir purchases made at Gira Gira Girls have to be paid for with yen in cash.
See Kabukicho’s Latest Creation
Just when the closure of the Shinjuku Robot Restaurant left us hanging, leave it to the people of Kabukicho to dream up Tokyo’s wildest new entertainment phenomenon. The Samurai Restaurant is a brand new creation, and it’s got some big shoes to fill, but its creators are bubbling over with ridiculous new ideas, and we’re pretty sure it’s going to take the city by storm. If you want to see Japan at its most over the top, with all the neon lights and samurai sword fights of your dreams, you might just want to make a reservation for Samurai Restaurant Time at Gira Gira Girls.
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