Photos show iconic exterior being torn down, putting a giant question mark over the future of the popular tourist site.

Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant is one of the city’s busiest tourist attractions, entertaining masses of international visitors with four daily shows featuring light-filled performances starring robots and scantily clad women gyrating in mid-air.

▼ A taste of the visual extravaganza provided by Robot Restaurant

▼ The place is more ‘robot’ than ‘restaurant’, as tickets are priced at 8,500 yen (US$78.26) with a small meal costing extra.

Though Robot Restaurant is open to everyone, it’s mostly frequented by foreign visitors, which means the place took a big hit when the country was shut off to overseas tourists due to travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic last year.

▼ In April 2020, the company announced it would be closing temporarily.

With Japan still closed to foreign tourists, and Tokyo currently under a state of emergency following a surge in new coronavirus cases amidst a fourth wave, Robot Restaurant has remained closed since April last year. While the official website still states that this is a temporary closure, people in Japan began to question whether that had now changed, after images showed the giant sign outside the premises had now been taken down.

▼ What Robot Restaurant usually looks like

▼ And this is how it looks today.

Photos and videos shared online showed the huge sign being taken down by a team with a small crane truck on 17 April, almost a year to the day since Robot Restaurant announced its temporary closure.

▼ Twitter user @3693000World snapped these three photos of the removal work as it took place.

As soon as people around Japan saw the demolition work on the sign being carried out, chatter about the current status of the restaurant began to circulate online.

▼ What’s the reason behind the removal of the giant sign?

Comments included:

“So Robot Restaurant is finally closing…how sad to see an iconic Kabukicho landmark disappear.”
“Is it true that Robot Restaurant is closed?????”
“That place relied heavily on foreign tourists so it’s impossible for them to stay in business, considering the current situation.”
“The city is becoming more and more devastated by the pandemic.”
“Is this the end of the Japanese robot industry?”

One commenter, however, claimed the sign had been removed for safety reasons, saying:

“I spoke to someone connected to the restaurant and they said the shows have been suspended indefinitely. It seems the reason why the signboard was removed is because there would be a problem if it falls. But no matter how you look at it, it’s a withdrawal, right?”

We contacted Robot Restaurant directly to ask why the sign had been removed and if the temporary closure had become permanent, but as of this writing, they are yet to respond to our enquiries.

Here’s hoping they don’t become yet another coronavirus business casualty like these fallen companies, because with vaccines yet to be distributed in Japan, the wait to open the country back up to tourism looks like it’s becoming much longer than previously anticipated.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Top image © SoraNews24
Insert images: SoraNews24, Twitter/@hello_sts_, Twitter/@3693000World  (1, 2)
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