Japan has a fascinating pop culture. Even though we’ve seen many a salaryman passed out from too much Asahi on the street, certain establishments cater to people of all ages to pull them away from drinking and other vices. The arcades are one of these places. Located near almost every metro station and city center, heaps of people find their solace here in front of the brightly lit screens.
Different from typical American arcades, those in Japan act as a true playground for gamers since there are no prizes — monetary or otherwise. People invest hours of their time battling these video games purely for the fun of playing. Winning a trillion tokens won’t get you a ridiculously large stuffed animal, but a trillion more minutes of play time.. score!
Gaming brought Raymund back to his younger days when he and his cousins would play into the early morning hours and Carmela found it all silly, fun and extremely entertaining. Even more enjoyable was watching the teenage boy blasting through the super-expert-you-have-to-play-for-a-gagillion-hours-to-get-to-this-level game, especially the ones where you have to hit a drum to a beat (Taiko Drum Master) or tap colors in a given sequence. We weren’t able to snag videos (some arcades banned it) but these people did.
We ventured through various games and tried (and failed) to figure out the deafening pachinko machines, but eventually developed a fondness for the Fortune Orb. After shuttling token after token through the machine’s metal arms, we got a taste of lady luck and hit the Jackpot, the game’s most highly coveted prize!
For those who don’t fancy the arcade and would prefer a more transformative activity, they don’t have to go far to find one of these.
These photobooths are almost as ubiquitous in Japan as the arcades. Mostly young women and teenagers frequent these makeshift photo studios all dolled up for a night of glam. Tyler and Noriko showed us the light, literally. We entered one of the larger, meant for a gaggle of teenagers or an entire boy band booths and struck the proper pose when each flashbulb went off.
And it wasn’t over once we stepped out of the booth. We then had the chance to do add some doodles and flair (ya know some stars, hearts, “I’m a Princess!” stamp) but even better we could change our eye shape and skin tone. Perfect. Done and done.