Introduction to Japanese Game Arcades and All the Available Games and Machines!
The arcade game industry in Japan started approximately in 1978, this was the booming year of Pacman and Space Invaders. By 1990s, during Street Fighter, it was clear that Japanese arcades were going to become a big culture in Japan. Undeniably, Japan offers some of the best and most creative arcade games in the world.
Arcades can be found everywhere in Japan, it has something for everyone - young children may enjoy the cute variation of plush toys in the crane game booths, teenage kids may prefer the classic shooting games, or couples may want to create memories with the iconic Japanese photo booth that you can pick all the different filters!
Tokyo is definitely a paradise for Japanese arcades, where there is a mixture of old-school Japanese games as well as the modern and innovative ones. Let’s take you down some of the busiest streets of Japan and introduce you to some must try’s Arcades, grab your change and warm-up your fingers. Let’s have some fun!
What Can You Find in Japanese Arcades?
Crane Games (UFO Catcher)
As you walk in, you will be welcomed by the different varieties of crane toy games, some you can even win really big prizes. There are many kinds of games, the typical ones are the ones that you can grab plushie with a controller claw, these are little kids’ favourites.
These games are addictive and keep you entertained by triggering your determination to win prizes. Not only you enjoy the thrill against your luck, but you can win prizes that are very rewarding. The prizes can be plushies of all sizes, high-priced figures, cushions, kitchenware, candy, alarm clocks, and whatever else!
There are plenty of rhythm games in Japan, you can play the instruments, sing, dance and just enjoy your time. Usually, these games are triggered by the movement of your body, it’s especially fun when you are playing with a big group of friends. Most of the song selection includes Japanese pop, rock and anime songs.
Mario Kart/Racing Games
These Mario Kart games are iconic in Japanese arcades, it is an arcade sub-series of Nintendo’s Mario Kart series which gives you a real-life experience of controlling the kart.
This game’s arcade machines have a camera that will take a photo of the player’s face, which will usually be displayed above the player’s character during multiplayer races. It is a classic game to play with your friends as you are able to race each other!
Taiko no Tatsujin
If you’ve ever visited an arcade in Japan, you’ve seen the hulking game cabinet featuring two taiko drums and cute little cartoon drum mascots. The rhythm-based game is all about hitting a taiko drum to the beat of the music – more accurate drumming gets you more points.
Taiko no Tatsujin is so popular in Japan, there are also versions for PC and most consoles, including Sony Playstation and Nintendo Switch.
It is a game that you can play with your group of friends, Taiko is loved by both adult and kids. It will definitely get your adrenalin pumping!
Perhaps one of the coolest things you’ll find in some Japanese arcades is the old school-looking square game machines that include various nostalgic games such as Pac-Man, Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, etc. these games can hardly be seen in Japan nowadays.
Generally, these vintage game machines came straight from the 70s and 80s era, during the introduction of arcade in Japan. It is definitely rare to see these booths anymore but if you do see them, you’ll definitely feel the nostalgic vibe as if you were back in 1980!
Purikura Photo Booth
A staple feature of all arcades worth a visit is Purikura, it is a photo booth that allow you to customize photos in fun, creative, and sometimes ridiculous ways. They are quite different from your usual photo booth, you will find a green screen background inside, and near the camera there are display of different poses you can do.
Once the shoot is over, you’ll head over to the side of the booth, there is usually a big screen that allows you to customize your photos with filters, stickers, lettering, and all kinds of creative stuff. You will also get a printed copy to keep for memories!
Now let’s explore some popular arcade spots in Japan.
Shinjuku Sports Land Main Store
This place is about 3-minute walk from Shinjuku station, it is a popular arcade that symbolises Shinjuku as a whole. The overall vibe is vibrant, lively and fun! Usually opened from 10am -12am, you can enjoy it at any time of the day, but night-time is especially fun! The first floor has all the crane games you could ever imagine. It is the perfect way to end your night!
Taito Station Shinjuku South Exit Store
This arcade is conveniently close to the train station as the name mentioned, it is about a1-minute walk from the south east exist of Shinjuku station. Taito is quite a large arcade centre with plenty of different game machines such as Mario Kart video games, mahjong games and a big selection of crane game machines.
It has eight different floors, Taito is considered to be a giant arcade venue in Shinjuku area, with variety of games and fun things to do, people especially love medal game area, where you feel like you are in a casino with games such as slots, bingo and horse racing!
GAO Kabuki-cho Store
Another popular arcade in Shinjuku, it is about 5-minute walk from the east exist of Shinjuku Station. It is a one floor arcade that is packed with different types of games. They also have a line-up of many gachapon machines, from cute little animal figurines to fake food keychains and magnets! You can find similar games to the Shinjuku Sports Land Main Building, so you can visit this place instead if you want to avoid the crowd.
Taito HEY, Akihabara
This place has some old school arcade games alongside newer games. The second floor mostly has shooting games, so if you are looking for something fun to play as a group, this is a perfect choice. The atmosphere in here feels authentic, all smoke and neon lights. HEY is also popular with tourists and first-timers.
SAGE Shinjuku Kabuki-cho
Another popular arcade in Shinjuku is “SEGA Shinjuku Kabukicho”, it is about a 6-minute walk from east exit of Shinjuku Station. People often come here to kill time while they may be waiting for their movie to begin as the arcade is very close to “TOHO Cinemas Shinjuku” where the famous Godzilla is.
This arcade is perfect for everyone to enjoy, as they have plenty of games catering towards kids as well as adults such as “Taiko no Tatsujin” which is a series of rhythm games, where players simulate playing a taiko drum in time with the music to earn points. You will also find classic childhood games like the Mario Kart and plenty of fighting games!