Your local arcade may have boarded up its doors a few decades ago, but in Japan, arcades are as popular as ever. It should come as no surprise you can find some of the coolest arcades in the world in Tokyo, a gamer’s paradise. With its neon lights, endless sprawl, countless nooks and crannies, and chaotic crowds, Tokyo itself feels a bit like a video game.
Though Tokyo is the center of Japan's arcade culture, most Japanese towns have at least one arcade, known as a gesen (a shortened, Japanized version of the English phrase “game center”). After a long day at work or school, many head to the arcade to play a game of pachinko, take pictures with friends at the photo sticker booth, or reclaim their high score at a favorite game.Whether you’re looking for a casino-sized arcade with vibrant lights and the latest games or a quiet space housing vintage favorites like Pacman, Japan is your go-to place for some of the best arcades in the world.
Anata no Warehouse, Kawasaki
Possibly one of the most unique arcades in the world, Anata no Warehouse (Your Warehouse), in Kawasaki, Japan, was designed to look like Kowloon Walled City, a once heavily populated slum in Hong Kong. To get to the games, you need to cross over a body of neon sludge via a dodgy stone path. Everything from the bathrooms to the chicken snack shack is weathered, grimy, and dimly lit.The only pristine things here are the games, which give off an unearthly glow in this Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque landscape. Unlike most arcades, Warehouse is 18-and-over only, probably because of its nightmare-inducing vibe. Check out this extensive walk through video for an idea.
Super Potato, Tokyo
If you’re a fan of classic video games, you're in luck, because Super Potato is vintage gamer’s heaven. Primarily a store for retro games, Super Potato boasts three floors of gaming goodness. Head to the top floor of the building to get to the arcade and take a seat on a throne made of NES and Sega game cartridges – your very own throne of games.To see the full extent of awesome retro gear and games at Super Potato, check out this crazy walk through - there's more than one giant Mario, and a massive, playable Gameboy hanging from a wall.
Game Bar A-Button, Tokyo
Nestled between houses and apartment buildings, this barcade is off the beaten track and a favorite of hardcore gamers. Stacks and stacks of classic-era consoles line the walls and controllers hang from the ceiling like Christmas lights. The big names in Japanese gaming hang out here, talking shop and playing old-school games while enjoying spirits.Check out this video walk through to see how crazy-small this place really is.
Natsuge Museum, Tokyo
Unlike many of the arcades on this list, Natsuge Museum has only one floor, but it's a damn good one. The arcade features a revolving lineup of games from the '80s and before. Don’t let the name fool you; although this arcade houses old games, this is not a museum. All of the games are playable.Check out this photo slideshow for an idea of some of the great retro stuff you'll find at Natsuge Museum.