- Robots in Japan: A Global Power in Robotics
- Where to find the Service Robots of Tokyo
- The Robot Restaurant
- Henn na Hotel (the "Strange Hotel")
- Where you can Learn More about Robots
- Kawasaki Robostage Exhibits
- TEPIA Advanced Technology Gallery
- Chiba Institute of Technology - Tokyo Skytree Town® Campus
- Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation)
In Japan, a world-leading country in robotics, new robots are developed every day for the betterment of people's lives. Read on to learn about a variety of robot-run venues in Tokyo, including Shinjuku's "Robot Restaurant" and Odaiba's science museum that has exciting exhibits in place to show you the world of robotics.
Robots in Japan: A Global Power in Robotics
What do you imagine when you hear "robot"? You might think of the kinds of humanoid robots you see in cartoons and anime.
Generally, robots can be differentiated by 2 types: service robots and industrial robots.
In reality, not all robots are the same! Robots can mostly be categorized into the 2 types: "service robots" and "industrial robots".
What you may not know, is that Japan is a global leader in the production of industrial robots, supplying the world with over 50% of global industrial robot shares (as of 2017).
The role of industrial robots is mainly in manufacturing, with a wide variety of products including cars, semiconductors, and everyday electronics. They replace manual human labor in processes like product construction and coating/painting.
Service robots, on the other hand, can be seen in places like restaurants and hotels, and even in homes.
The job of the service robot is to improve the lives of everyday people. The humanoid "Pepper" robot can be seen conducting restaurant service and reception, the cleaning robot "Roomba" has become commonplace in households. "Robohon" has the ability to communicate with its user - these are only a tiny handful of examples!
Where to find the Service Robots of Tokyo
Here are 2 spots in Tokyo where you can see service robots in action.
Robot Restaurant in Tokyo (Kabukicho, Shinjuku) (photo credit: Robot Restaurant)
The appropriately-named "Robot Restaurant" locates in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku. At the Robot Restaurant, you can enjoy a show like no other, with huge robots, flashing lights, and energetic dancers in vibrant costumes.
Tokyo's Robot Restaurant attracts over 200,000 guests annually, with most of them being non-Japanese guests from English-speaking countries.
The Robot Restaurant has been featured in large media outlets such as the UK’s BBC and the USA’s CNN. Celebrities such as director Tim Burton, have paid a visit to see the wild shows as well.
It took 10 billion yen to build and decorate the restaurant interior. When you step inside, it feels like you have warped into a completely different, futuristic universe.
On the vivid, neon-lit stage, giant robots resembling truck-sized dragons and 18 meter-long snakes, dance and clash together to create a mind-boggling display.
Robots are everywhere in the Robot Restaurant! (photo credit: Robot Restaurant)
The drink counter serves soft drinks, beer, and light meals such as hamburgers.
With prior booking, you can also have a sushi bento box to accompany your show.
Be sure to visit the Robot Restaurant, for an otherworldly experience like no other!
Henn na Hotel (the "Strange Hotel")
Dinosaur robots greet you at the reception counter (photo credit: Henn na Hotel)
Henn na Hotel is a robot-staffed hotel in Tokyo, that gives you a taste of Japan's cutting-edge robot technology.
After opening in 2016, Henn na Hotel was registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as “The first robot-staffed hotel”.
Its name "Henn na Hotel" is a deliberate one; the most intuitive Japanese meaning of the name is "strange hotel" or "out-of-place hotel". The real intention behind it is neither, and can be loosely translated to "the unique hotel that keeps changing".
The very first Henn na Hotel opened in the amusement facility Huis Ten Bosch, located in Nagasaki. Currently there are 12 Henn na Hotels throughout Japan (as of January 2019).
In Tokyo, you can find Henn na Hotel at Nishi-Kasai, Ginza, Hamamatsucho, Akasaka, Asakusabashi and Haneda.
Henn na Hotel Ginza locates near Tsukiji Market and Kabukiza Theater, and is great for those planning to visit the two places.
At the reception counter, you can find two human-like robots.
All staff – even the receptionists – are robots (photo credit: Henn na Hotel)
These receptionist robots are multilingual, and can guide guests in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. They will check you in and out.
Throughout your stay, you can find other robots such as a window-cleaning robot, air purifying robot and more.
At the hotel, you can find the latest tech gadgets, such as the free rental smartphone “handy” and the “LG Styler”, a closet-shaped dry-cleaning machine.
Where you can Learn More about Robots
For those who want to not only interact with robots but also learn about them, here are 4 robot-related venues you can visit!
> Kawasaki Robostage Exhibits
Kawasaki Robostage (photo credit: Kawasaki Robot Service, Ltd.)
Kawasaki Robostage, in Odaiba, is an industrial robot exhibition hosted by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
The robots you can see at Kawasaki Robostage are used in car factories, drug discovery and more.
Many robots displayed at Kawasaki Robostage (photo credit: Kawasaki Robot Service, Ltd.)
When visiting Kawasaki Robostage, make sure to check out the VR-robot attraction, K-Roboride. There is also an area where you can have a robot draw a picture of you.
K-Roboride is a new kind of experience you can only find here.
K-Roboride (photo credit: Kawasaki Robot Service, Ltd.)
After sitting on a chair with a built-in robot arm, you will wear a pair of VR goggles. Once the goggles are on, you will see sights such as a sunset or a coast.
The large, built-in robot arm, the BX165N, will vibrate your seat, and will have you feeling as if you are riding on a drone.
You can also have duAro, a drawing robot, draw a picture of you. duAro scans your face and uses its arms to draw a picture.
duAro drawing a face (photo credit: Kawasaki Robot Service, Ltd.)
At Kawasaki Robostage, you can learn about industrial robots and interact with them as well. Visit Kawasaki Robostage find out more about industrial robots and about the latest in Japanese robotics.
TEPIA Advanced Technology Gallery
TEPIA (photo credit: TEPIA)
TEPIA locates in the Aoyama area of Tokyo. “TEPIA” stands for the Association for Technological excellence Promoting Innovative Advances, and is a research facility and museum for advanced technology, including robotics.
On the first floor are the Technology Pathway, Technology Showcase and Programming Experience Area. On the second floor is the Technology Lab.
At the Technology Showcase on the first floor, you can learn about how technology can help solve issues in Japanese society, such as its rapidly aging population, diminishing number of children and interregional discrepancies.
There is also ZUKKU, a robot that can fit onto the palm of your hands, and a programming experience area.
ZUKKU (photo credit: TEPIA)
At the Technology Lab on the second floor, you can interact with the robot OriHime. OriHime is unique in which you can control it very precisely even from afar. There is also an exhibit of KIbiro, a robot that allows you to keep watch of your family even when you are not with them.
At the museum theater, there is a movie on how the Skytreee was made. The movie is played in English. (Reservations necessary. Only available on weekdays.)
Chiba Institute of Technology - Tokyo Skytree Town® Campus
Located on the 8th floor of Tokyo Solamachi
The Chiba Institute of Technology’s Tokyo Skytree Town® Campus can be found on the 8th floor of Tokyo Solamachi, a commercial facility inside of Tokyo Skytree.
There, visitors can experience interactive attractions that make use of the latest robot technology for free.
The Chiba Institute of Technology is a university where the latest in robot technology is studied. The Tokyo Skytree Town® Campus was established in 2012 as a way to showcase its research and findings to the public.
The campus is divided into Area I and Area II. Area I focuses on robotics and AI technology.
Robots made by students and the university’s Future Robotics Technology Center are displayed.
Rescue robot (photo credit: Wataru Umehara)
You can find robots such as the disaster response robot that was used to help with the aftermath of the nuclear accident in Fukushima, and the Halluc II, and 8-legged transportation device.
Gigantic Robotic Screen (photo credit: Wataru Umehara)
At the Gigantic Robot Screen, you can learn about the Chiba Institue of Technology’s latest robots through a projection of them.
Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation)
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, commonly known as Miraikan (photo credit: 日本科学未来館)
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, or Miraikan, as it is commonly known, locates in the Koto ward’s Odaiba area.
Geo-Cosmos, Miraikan’s symbol exhibit (photo credit: 日本科学未来館)
The permanent exhibit has three themed areas: Explore the frontiers, Create your future and Discover your Earth.
In the Create your Future zone, there are two areas dedicated to robots, called “Robots in Your Life” and “Android: What is Human?”
In the “Robots in Your Life” area, you can find Paro, a stuffed animal robot resembling a seal. In 2002, Paro was chosen by The Guinness World Records as the “Most Therapeutic Robot”. Paro can answer people’s voices, show emotion when given affection and more to soothe the hearts of many.
Four times a day, there is a demonstration of the robot ASIMO. ASIMO is a human-like robot which can run, kick and more.
ASIMO (photo credit: 日本科学未来館)
●ASIMO demonstration times: 11:00a.m./1:00p.m./2:00p.m./4:00p.m. (about 10 minutes per demonstration)
*Times are subject to change
In the “Android: What is Human?” area, you can meet Otonaroid, a robot that is extremely human-like, and Alter, a robot that mimics the complex moves of a human.
Otonaroid (photo credit: 日本科学未来館)
Otonaroid is a female robot that has a very human-like appearance. It speaks in a natural, human voice, and has human-like movements that coincide with its “heartrate”.
Alter (photo credit: 日本科学未来館)
Alter, on the other hand, does not have a very human-like appearance. However, its complex movements are programmed to precisely mimic those of a human being.
Tokyo: An Ideal Destination for Robot Lovers
Throughout Tokyo, there are many spots where you can interact with robots, learn about robotics and more. Both for those who already have a passion for robotics, and those who want to learn about robot technology, Tokyo is the ideal destination. Experience Japan's world-leading robotics to the fullest!