Tokyo robot revue drawing crowds at cabaret

Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:59am EDT
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By Mari Saito

TOKYO (Reuters) - In a restaurant down an alley in one of Tokyo's best-known red light districts, four massive female robots wink and wave as they lumber to the beat of traditional Japanese drums and a Lady Gaga dance tune.

It's show time at the "Robot Restaurant," a new and high-tech take on the city's decades-old cabaret scene that puts a friendly, if unusual, face on the robot technology in which Japan is a world leader.

More than half the world's industrial robots are used here, but the featured performers at the brand-new venue, which owners say cost 10 billion yen ($125.8 million) and took three years to build, are 3.6 meter-high, custom-made female robots with facial features controlled by the club's women dancers.

The lower half of each robot resembles the iconic Japanese character Gundam on wheels, while its curvaceous human-like upper body is clad in a futuristic gladiator outfit. They have blonde, brown or red hair with blue or green eyes.

Each is controlled by two bikini-clad women, who perch in a high seat attached to the robot's stomach and control the facial features and legs using joysticks attached to the seats for the hour-long "Fighting Females" performance.

"The concept behind this restaurant is fighting, feisty females, and the robots are part of that theme," said the club's spokesman, who goes only by his last name, Watanabe.

"Everything apart from the central component of the robots is made and assembled by us."

Japan has a long-standing fascination with robots, which have always been seen as friendly and helpful - in contrast to the West, where they are more often seen as cold or sinister.   Continued...

A 3.6 metre-high custom-made female robot is pictured at the newly opened "Robot Restaurant" in Kabukicho, one of Tokyo's best known red light districts, August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao