100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience

Published on January 11th, 2011.

One of my favorite places to spend time during my 6 month stay in Japan was, believe it or not, the arcade/game center (ゲームセンター).  I found myself there multiple times a week spending at least 1,000 Yen each visit.  For me, it was the perfect form of entertainment.  Surprisingly, playing was only half the amount of fun.  I loved watching the local arcade “pros” do their thing on their beloved games.  I was always comparing myself to these people, wishing that someday, I could be as good as them.  By the time I left, I was happy with what I had achieved.  I was still nowhere near the level of the local favorites, but I was satisfied with how much I had learned.

One of my greatest memories came while I was in Akihabara playing Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3DX.  An older gentlemen in his 60s (seriously) was watching me play.  I just so happened to be on the last stage (#100) and when I crossed the finish line to beat the game, he gave me a round of applause and a high five.  Needless to say, it was special moment in time.  n_n

I recently came across the development of a documentary (100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience) that is being filmed highlighting Japanese arcade culture.  A trailer has been filmed for this project which you will find below.  The creators of this project are heading to Japan this Spring to finish filming and plan to have the final cut of the documentary out sometime Fall 2011.

I am very excited to see the end result of this project which has been supported from people all around the world.  A blog has been updated for this project over here @ IndieGoGo if you are interested in learning more about the project specifically.

Ever heard of Daigo Umehara, the best Street Fighter player on the planet?

If you have any arcade experiences and/or favorite arcade games, please, share them below.  I would love to hear about the games you enjoy playing.

  • http://twitter.com/ikari7789 Andrew Miller

    I remember walking around Ueno the other day and being in the Taito station seeing a salary man, still in his suit mind you, playing Dance Dance Revolution… it was probably one of the most bizarre sites I’ve ever seen… :)

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      I’ve seen that too, it’s actually somewhat common. Salarymen going to arcades after work to blow off some steam^^

    • http://myshashin.tumblr.com TicTaek

      Next time I am in Japan, I’m definitely dressing up in business formal and then proceeding to jam out with Jubeat. I expect the power of awesome to push me to the next level.

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      You need to get that on tape! ;)

    • http://myshashin.tumblr.com TicTaek

      Mission Accepted!

  • Ana E

    I also think Taiko no Tatsujin is a very good game to relax :)

    I used to take purikura and “play” UFO Catchers in Japan, but in Brazil I play coin games only.
    One thing I found interesting in Japan is that in some Arcades, like SEGA @ Shibuya, boys can’t enter the purikura corner without a girl. It makes sense, but…

    • http://twitter.com/ikari7789 Andrew Miller

      Oh yeah! I also noticed that! I’m only visiting Tokyo, I’m living in the Osaka area actually, and I’ve never seen anything like that at the places I’ve been to…

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Yeah that’s kind of weird… Is it because you can see girls’ legs from outside the booths or something? (and possibly sneak up with a camera…)

  • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

    I went to arcades many times last time I was in Japan, especially the SEGA arcade in Shibuya. Usually playing dart with friends while having a couple of beers^^ It’s surprising how these arcades aren’t globally popular, I’m sure it’s not only the Japanese who love them.

    Definitely looking forward to this documentary!

  • http://twitter.com/yaadayaada Loc Lam | ロックラム

    I have a funny arcade story. While I was in Akihabara, one of my friend really wanted to play Tekken. I’m not very good at fighting games but went anyway. While I was there I figured I might as well try it out and selected a character.

    Apparently the first character you chose is your opponent and the second is who you’re playing. The whole time I was playing this wooden character thing, but I thought I was playing the first character. I was winning every rounds, but the whole time I thought I was losing. Wasn’t until I reached the last stage when I figured it out. Hahaha.

    People were lining up behind me too, but I didn’t understand why because I was “loosing” so bad.

    • http://myshashin.tumblr.com TicTaek

      This made me laugh!

      That’s so awesome!

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      Hahaha! :D How did you not notice that until the last stage? Crazy xD

      Oh and that was Mokujin you played with! I used to be quite a Tekken fan back in the days.

    • http://twitter.com/yaadayaada Loc Lam | ロックラム

      I’m not very observant LOL xP

      That’s what it’s called! I like it, I’m gonna learn all its moves for next time.

  • http://www.accessj.com Dom

    My personal addiction for the past couple of years has been the UFO catcher machines. I’ve won tons of massive toys, and at good prices… but somehow I feel like I shouldn’t have blown all that cash on the giant Elmo or 3 Rilakkumas….

    • http://myshashin.tumblr.com TicTaek

      It’s funny because throughout my whole time there, I didn’t spend a single Yen on the UFO Catcher machines specifically. And it wasn’t until my last night before leaving when I finally decided to play the other various types of machines to win little figures and whatnot. I was just too busy playing video games I suppose.

      3 Rilakkumas you say?? Nice!

    • http://www.yonasu.com yonasu

      I should definitely try and win something next time!

    • Ana E

      UFO Catchers are the best! I mean, if you watch some YouTube videos about them, you can learn many many many techniques xDD
      I did that before going to Japan, so I could grab hair accessories, rilakkumas, korilakkumas, sanrio characters, and other tiny-cute-japanese-girly stuff. Ok, it’s true I spent a lot of money orz But it’s awesome, I really enjoyed (and it was cheaper than actually buying it)!
      And if you catch something and it gets stuck, or almost falling, you can call someone who works there. They will open the machine and give to you.
      Just in Japan, I guess.

      (Poor English, sorry!)