Japan has long since been a country I would love to visit. I’ve always been fascinated by the culture, the tradition and the creative and technical output of the country. Incredible samurai history, powerful martial arts, impressive electronic industries, beautiful manga and anime, and last but not least, amazing video games.

There are obviously so many games and gaming platforms that come from Japan; Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Sega, Nintendo, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and thousands of others. It is a mecca for many video gamers around the world. And particularly in Japan retro video games are as popular as ever

I do hope to visit the country one day and there are several places I would love to visit. A mixture of video games, toys and manga. I’d probably start by visiting a few toy stores. These two are ones I’ve seen highly recommended.

Nakano Broadway
This shopping mall is apparently the sort of place you could spend all day in. And I probably would. Loads of toy shops crammed into three floors. Mostly toys and manga etc. I’ve heard about one store in particular in here called Gaocchi which would be a must-visit.

Toy Cats Showcase, Kichi Joji
And this is another awesome toy shop I’ve heard about. Apparently the owner is a massive Batman fan. You can see how the stuff is all just totally crammed into the shelves and you really could spend hours just raking through everything to find a hidden gem.

Japanese Retro Toy Museum, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
And there’s a cool toy museum I’ve heard about which would be great to visit if possible.

Another side of Japan I would be really interested in seeing is the Pachinko parlours. Japan has a very interesting relationship with gambling. Many forms of gambling are illegal, and there aren’t many physical places where you can gamble. Recently online gambling in the form of casino slots and other types of gambling have been growing. But the main form of gambling that you can legally find in physical locations is the fascinating world of Pachinko. There are special gambling laws that allow Pachinko to still go ahead and a remarkable amount of Japanese leisure time is spent in Pachinko parlours. Definitely something I would like to experience in person.

But I think the part of Tokyo culture I would most like to experience first hand is the video arcades. Japan really is the home of video games and I’ve heard some amazing things about some of the arcades in Tokyo. Arcades in Europe and America have been dying a death since the 90s when home consoles could match the visual quality of arcade machines, and although we are seeing a resurgence of retro arcades opening up in the West, I don’t think it really ever died in Japan. Arcades have always had a constant place in the culture of the Japanese, which I think is a very cool thing.

Anata no Warehouse arcade, Kawasaki
This place has had quite a bit of coverage in Western media over the years. It looks awesome, so it would definitely be on my list.

HEY (Hirose Entertainment Yard)
I’ve heard great things about HEY from fellow gamers. Feels like a really genuine arcade run by gamers. Just look at all the candy cabs in this video!

Taito Station
This is one of the biggest arcades in Japan, if not the biggest. Multiple floors jam packed with arcade machines.

Club Sega
Much along the same lines as Taito Station I believe. Perfect for anyone who enjoys Sega’s many incredible arcade games over the years.

Super Potato
And I’ll finish off my trip with another shop, but one focussed on video games and I believe has some arcade machines in it on the top floor too. The famous Super Potato. I would definitely enjoy spending all my remaining holiday budget in here.