You’ve just planned that dream vacation to Japan, you’ve packed suitcases in suitcases, you did all the research, but one thing stands in your way, the language barrier.
Recently coming back from Japan I can say that it was an amazing trip. I went to historic areas, the food was amazing, and bunny island is the cuddliest island ever created out of World War 2. The only problem I had was finding retro video game stores!
Seriously Bunny Island was a fantastic day trip that you need to check out if you ever visit Japan. Originally used for chemical weapon testing and creation, this island definitely has a dark past. Once the war was over, they let the rabbits roam free on the island. Since there are no natural predators on the island besides a few hawks, rabbits do what they do best multiply. I’m going to confuse friendly with hungry but we had dozens of rabbits come up to us while hiking the trails asking for food. SO adorable! Not only is it adorable but the trails leading the top of the mountain have breathtaking views.
Now don’t get me wrong, I did plenty of retro game shopping even when I was begged to stop. I also regret not picking up one or two items. The biggest, literally, was a complete Drummania set for the PlayStation. The issue I had was trying to use Google maps. The language barrier caused me the most trouble since Japanese Google maps is of course mainly written and optimized in Japanese. Big surprise, huh? So here is my list of video game stores to check out while you’re in Japan. Many of these locations are chains so if you’re hitting up the big cities like I did like Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Tokyo, you’ll be sure to find them.
Let’s get this one out of the way first. If you’re going to Japan and into retro video games I’m sure Super Potato is on your list. There are a couple multistory locations in Akihabara. While the selection was excellent, the prices were less than to be desired. Sure you can purchase that retro game but when the prices were similar to eBay or higher that’s when I take a step back.
This is a general recycle shop and most of them have a couple of shelves dedicated to retro video games. Unfortunately this is the one store I was not able to hit up while I was over there due to time constraints. Just be careful when you search for this chain of stores as it shares the same name as a prep school. I was fooled a couple of times during my search so shame on me.
This place was amazing if not just to window shop! I went to the one in Akihabara and each floor was dedicated to a different nerdy hobby. Action figures, dolls, manga, toys, and of course video games. I found the selection to be equivalent to that of Super Potato with slightly better prices. A word of advice when shopping here, take the stairs. That goes for everywhere in Japan. All of these multi-level stores will have a couple of elevators but when a store is 7+ stories tall it takes a long time for that elevator to reach your floor. Not only that but there were instances where it would stop on my floor and it would be packed.
Book Off & Book Off Plus
Used video games, books, toys, and clothes. For those who grew up in the Chicagoland area, this place felt like a much bigger Half-Priced Books. The prices here were great but the trade off was the selection. I went to at least five Book Offs while I was here and the selection varied wildly. Some had 2 shelves dedicated to used games while others had whole rows. Some games were as low as 100 yen or about $1. One location was clearancing out games. Some of the highlights I saw included a beautiful spice orange GameCube, a mini Pop’n Music controller, and a complete boxed Drummania set.
GEO Hyper Media Shop
I stumbled upon this store while I was on the train to Miyajima Island. Their sign said “games, DVD, and CD” so I knew I had to stop. Once you’re in Japan for awhile, English REALLY stands out to the eye. This store also allows customers to rent DVDs and manga which is cool, but doesn’t help me. They had a good selection of current gen games for sale. Just like when Blockbuster or Hollywood video existed, they’d sell their old rental stock which is what this was. I was able to pick up Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure for the PS3 for about 500 yen (about $5).
Japan Video Game Pick-Ups
These are my video game pick-ups from Japan. I went in with a list of games I was looking for and the approximate ebay price. I knew I wouldn’t have internet so this list helped me while I shopped. I recommend having the title in English, Japanese, and a picture of the catridge to show shop employees. It really helps language barrier.
Japan is a shopper’s paradise. When it comes to video games you just need to know where to look. Plan ahead and if you see any of these stores, be sure to check them out. You never know what you might find.
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