Whilst doing the first in the `Foxed In The Head` series in Itabashi Ward I came across this “museum” which is located opposite one of the Inari Shrines I visited. Keen to finish that adventure as soon as possible I didn`t hang around but made a note of it for a future visit. As it was, it then took another year till I finally returned to check it out, and my wife was in tow for a romantic date of nostalgia. For her anyway!
Entrance to the game centre which calls itself a museum is just 200 yen. After handing in the special coin dispensed from that machine you are then given a plastic cup of coin-sized medals.
These can only be used in the retro machines on the far left of the place as you enter. It can get fairly crowded in this section if there are a few kids and their parents inside. It`s actually quite popular with young couples on dates, and then there`s also those visitors on a trip down memory lane.
The one room is fairly tight due to the huge number of machines which stand in the four aisles. As they did in my youth, it was the sports games which caught my eye. Compared to the high-tech modern-era video games the term “sport” could be applied in the very loosest sense of the word as the various football, baseball and racing simulations don`t really amount to anything more than a few pictures in the background of a pinball game!
For the uninitiated, the word dagashi in the shop`s name refers to very cheap and colourful snacks deriving from the words futile (da) and snacks (kashi) which have been around since the Edo period, and are easily affordable for kids to buy with their pocket money. The prices start from just 10 yen and the most popular ones I know of are umaibo (small, puffed, cylindrical corn snacks) and ramune (a carbonated soft drink sold in a unique glass bottle). Coins won on games can be converted into the various cheap snacks and drinks on sale.
Among the tangled tapestry of visible wires, old posters, dust and cardboard boxes of junk, are 50+ machines which are all quite similar regarding their actual gameplay.
A lot of them are the roulette fortune wheel kind where you basically just select a number and hope that the light stops on that number. It`s all about luck…or is it?! I certainly had beginners luck not that I really wanted to win more medal coins as I was just trying to dispense with them fairly quickly.
Janken is the Japanese equivalent of Rock Paper Scissors, but is used far more often in daily life by all ages. There was even a machine for this basic activity but other than that a lot of them were just pinball machines which really are far more difficult than I initially thought!
Such a game centre can`t really compete with the modern day equivalents in anything other than nostalgia is what I thought beforehand. However, there were a number of young kids in there having a good time whilst their parents wistfully looked on (or joined in!) with fond memories of a far more innocent and simpler time in the gaming world.
- Dagashiya Game Museum is located at 1-7-8 Miyamotocho, Itabashi-ku. It is open from 10am till 7pm on weekends and from 2pm till 7pm on Monday, Thursday and Friday. It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The aforementioned shrine over the road is Shimizu Inari Shrine (54-1 Miyamotocho) which is a reasonably large place.
Bonus: We actually returned to this place very recently as my wife thought her six year old nephew might enjoy it. She was right!
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