Pre-WW2 Nintendo Hanafuda (花札) – cards and gambling kit

This is my oldest Nintendo item, a set of original Nintendo Hanafuda. I’m not sure of the exact date of manufacture, the seller said the kit was ‘pre-war’. Given the superb condition it seems likely it is from quite late in that prescribed period.

The set is contained in an unassuming wooden box.

In which fit the gambling paraphernalia and cards.

I don’t think the non-card items are Nintendo made, but the kit is clearly built around the box of Nintendo cards and it all fits together very neatly.

Various chips for gambling.

Under the main card box is a tray of other gambling related items.

The card with the woman on it says 百本 or something like ‘a hundred points’.

The small Hanafuda box itself is where we can see the original Nintendo branding.

任天堂 – Nin Ten Do – in the original kanji logo.

The lid lifts off to reveal the beautiful Hanafuda (花札) – literally ‘flower cards’.

The cards themselves are quite beautiful and well made.

These three cards are branded. The left card has the Nintendo Playing Card logo, and the middle is branded with 任天堂 Nin Ten Do.

You can see the matching logo on the plaques at Nintendo’s old HQ in Kyoto.

The same logo is on the door on the right!

The whole kit.

Advertisements

Splatoon Madness in Japan Part 3 – Suizokukaan at the Kyoto Aquariam

The final stop in the ‘Splatoon madness’ journey is in Nintendo’s home town, at Kyoto Aquarium. A semi-educational Splatoon-themed event called ‘Suizokukaan’ ran for summer, with a focus on squid and jellyfish exhibits.

The aquarium was outfitted with Splatoon branding throughout.

And featured special Splatoon art as temporary signs for each relevant section.

The educational info compared what’s seen in the game with the actual marine life.

I’m not seeing the resemblance…

And what would a tourist trap be without copious volumes of exclusive merchandise! Murch would be proud.

The aquarium itself is pretty standard stuff, but quite modern with some nice exhibits.

The last metroid is in captivity

There are some cute Japanese touches too.

The main event is a Splatoon themed water fight for kids, in the seal pool between hourly shows. Kids get themselves a Splattershot…

And shoot water at a squid target.

It’s a competition for who can hit the highest level, green vs pink.

While parents/grandparents/people waiting for the seal show look on in various states of amusement/boredom.

The best part is the music. Tracks from the first game play while the race is on.

And right at the end they drop a waterfall on all the participants to the tune of ‘Now or Never’ – Squid Squad version.

All a very silly diversion but fun for the kids. And just shows the depth of the cultural relevance of the brand in Japan.

Nintendo Switch and Splatoon Madness in Japan Part 2 – Splatoon 2 launch day

Splatoon 2 launched on a Friday, so most people were at work. Shops in Akihabara open at 10am, and many were ready for early buyers.

Some larger stores like Sofmap, Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera set up shopfront stalls, selling the game and related products.

There were some small lines

But there was plenty of stock to go around, so it was easy enough to get the game and related items, like Amiibo and neon green/pink joycons. If you were lucky, there were also a few of the licensed (in-game brand) Forge headsets available.

My personal haul

The bigger stores were very busy however – there was a 20+ minute wait at the counter at Yodobashi for example.

While the game was easy enough to obtain, it’s not so easy to get a Switch console in Japan. This is what you see in most places at the moment:

Demand is off the charts and all Switch consoles sell out instantly. Stores only get a certain allotment of consoles, and to determine which customers get a chance to buy one, they run lotteries.

Literal lotteries. Customers are asked to line up at a certain location from 8am and take a number. Later in the day, they draw numbers, and the winners now have an opportunity to buy the console.

There was another lottery the next day for the regular edition of the console

This was the line to take a number at the Akihabara Bic Camera store.

After getting your number, you can go about you day shopping, and return for the results announcement.

Entrants in the lottery awaiting the results

The results are posted at the front of the store.

The Splatoon 2 booth was quite busy with buyers at this point, and combined with the rush to see the Switch lottery results, a crush took place.

Bad luck if you didn’t win, try again tomorrow.

Or you could buy from scalper stores for double the price!

More Splatoon store displays

 

After a long day of observing the craziness, I finally got home to get playing myself.

While Japan got ready to do it all again a week later for Dragon Quest XI!

Next up: Splatoon at the Kyoto Aquarium

Nintendo Switch and Splatoon Madness in Japan Part 1

While I mostly focus on retro stuff on this site, I’ve recently gotten back into modern Nintendo games. And there is nothing more modern, more Nintendo, and more Japanese than Splatoon, a game about punk-rock fashion-conscious highly evolved transforming squid children playing ink-shooting games in a post-apocalyptic future world. Oh, and it features singing idol girls and is set in a suspiciously Shinjuku/Harajuku looking city.
The first Splatoon was huge in Japan, despite the fact the console it was released on, the Wii U, was not. It was a crossover cultural hit with huge merchandising success, and is easily the highest selling home console game in the current generation in Japan, selling more than even huge names on PS4 like Final Fantasy and more recently Dragon Quest.

On top of this, Nintendo’s new system, the Switch, is also a huge hit, having been constantly sold out since launch. Recently these two things combined with the release of Splatoon 2 on Switch. And as expected, Japan has gone crazy for it.

Advertisements

Nintendo has gone all out with ads for the game, with many TV spots, ads running in trains…

   

…and standard posters around the city.

But what sets the Splatoon 2 campaign apart are these: Fashion ads for the in-game brands.

Merchandise

You can’t really go anywhere that sells toys or games or trinkets of any sort without coming across Splatoon merchandise. It is everywhere in all cities countrywide.

   

   

   

Many companies without a licence are using the ‘rainbow paint’ motif to sell their gaming wares too.

   

In store displays and ads

      

Tie-ins

You can buy all sorts of licenced snacks and drinks

7-Eleven has a promotion to get exclusive in-game gear if you buy the game from them (they sell download code cards) or with certain product purchases.

   

You get a Splatoon badge and a code which can be redeemed on the Switch eShop, and the gear gets dropped off as a package in Inkopolis Square in the game.

Tower Records

The biggest tie-in with a store is probably Tower Records.

The initial Japanese pre-release Splatoon demo was itself a tie-in, as Tower Records sold the in-game t-shirts for the Rock vs Pop theme.

The Shibuya store in particular looks like this:

   

And had a performance tie in with Wet Floor, an in-game band.

While not nation wide, there is a possibly even larger Splatoon tie-in event with Kyoto Aquarium, which I’ll cover in a future article.

Next article: Splatoon 2 launch day.

Game Shop 1983 (ゲームショップ 1983) Sapporo

Outside of the known ‘game districts’ in Tokyo and Osaka, specialist video game shops are a bit harder to come by these days. You have Yodobashi and Bic Camera for new games, and all the HardOff/HouseOff/BookOff variations, but you have to look a bit harder for specialist stuff.

I’ve recently been travelling in Hokkaido, and came across this tiny slice of old-school Akiba in Sapporo – Game Shop 1983.

It’s a tiny place, packed with stuff in that haphazard ‘run by an enthusiast not a businessman’ way. The guy who runs it is nice though, and the prices are not insane.

All eras are represented, from Famicom through to modern stuff.

The classic ‘drawers of loose carts’ format.
Some copies of the new ‘Neo Heiankyo Alien’ game mixed in with actual vintage releases…

It’s so cramped and…unkept… it reminds me a lot of the game shops in the Golden Arcade in Hong Kong more than most Japanese shops.

In a cute touch it seems you can get a papercraft version of the shop. They were all out at this moment however.

Not much more to say about the place, but it’s worth a visit just to see this: the Dreamcast Karaoke unit version of the ‘Tower of Power’

The best arcade in Japan – Kowloon Walled City at Kawasaki

Kowloon Walled City was a lawless mini-city built just outside of Hong Kong.

Kowloon1

Established on a legal ‘no-man’s land’ and unpoliced by either Britain or China, it thrived and became an amazing mass of humanity.

Kowloon2

bloodsport
You might know it was the place the Kumite was held…

It was torn down in 1994, but I’ve always been fascinated by the place. I’ve been to where it once was, and all that is left is a boring park, with a few monuments like a piece of the original foundation, and a model of the old city.

Kowloon_1 Kowloon_3 Kowloon_5

What has this got to do with Japan?

It seems I wasn’t the only one who was fascinated by the walled city, as some of the interior has been re-created in Japan. It’s called the Kawasaki Warehouse, and it’s one of many amazing pet projects by Japanese designer Taishiro Hoshino.

So we got on the train out of Tokyo and headed for Kawasaki. It’s a bit of a walk, but easy to find once in the right area.

KowloonJapan_1

KowloonJapan_2
The entrance looks right out of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman:

Inside you have to walk past pretend drug dens and prostitutes

KowloonJapan_3

KowloonJapan_4

Until it opens up into a re-creation of the bustling city courtyards

KowloonJapan_5

KowloonJapan_6

That just happens to have an old-school video arcade inside!

KowloonJapan_10

KowloonJapan_11
Everything from Taito’s original three screen Darius
KowloonJapan_12
To a sit-down Outrun cabinet
KowloonJapan_13
To more recent offerings like Nintendo and Namco’s Mario Kart Arcade

Even the bathrooms match the theme

KowloonJapan_15
I’m assured the ladies was much nicer!

Upstairs there’s a weird renaissance theme, and classy layout for various parlour games

KowloonJapan_16 KowloonJapan_17 KowloonJapan_18

KowloonJapan_19
And of course, Pachinko and crane games.

Well worth the trip out to Kawasaki!

More photos:

  KowloonJapan_8 KowloonJapan_20KowloonJapan_9726KowloonJapan_9741KowloonJapan_9769 KowloonJapan_9795KowloonJapan_9801 KowloonJapan_9781KowloonJapan_9813 KowloonJapan_9824 KowloonJapan_9830 KowloonJapan_9836 KowloonJapan_9837 KowloonJapan_9841KowloonJapan_9725 KowloonJapan_9751 KowloonJapan21 KowloonJapan_9727KowloonJapan_9742 KowloonJapan_14

 

Pilgrimage to Nintendo HQ in Kyoto

So I’ve been a Nintendo fan for 30 years, and I’m in Kyoto for the first time. Well I have to go to Nintendo HQ don’t I?

First stop was very hard to find – the old (60s?) Nintendo HQ, buried in the backstreets of a now largely residential area of Kyoto.

KyotoNintendo2_0009

After a lot of Googling and research, I worked out it was somewhere near here, which was around 15 minutes walk from the apartment we were staying in.

kyotonintendo

So we set off the next morning. After a lot of wandering in the freezing cold winter air, we found it!

KyotoNintendo_0002

 A totally non-descript building, except for this:

KyotoNintendo_0004

 And this:

KyotoNintendo_0003

This was their playing card factory and distribution centre I believe, and I also believe it has stayed in company hands. It’s a fairly large ‘small business’ building.

KyotoNintendo_0005

 I took a peek inside as well, clean but seemingly closed (it was a Friday).

KyotoNintendo_0006

 So that done, off on another adventure. The next stop would be much easier to find. It was about 40 minutes walk away through residential and industrial areas, though we stopped in at a couple of temples

KyotoNintendo2_0012 KyotoNintendo2_0015

KyotoNintendo2_0020KyotoNintendo_0028

Until it appeared…

KyotoNintendo2_0058

KyotoNintendo_0041

Mecca.

KyotoNintendo_0049

KyotoNintendo_0052

A couple of blocks away, there’s also the new development centre:

KyotoNintendo_0059

KyotoNintendo_0063

KyotoNintendo_0064

Not too much to see, you’re not allowed in either building. But they do have a nice big sign at the dev centre.

KyotoNintendo_0067

Bonus: Konami HQ in Tokyo!

KyotoNintendo2_9473