Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kansai Famicom Shops Part 1: Kobe

 I just got back from a few days in the Kansai area and was happily enough  able to do some retro game shopping (well, mostly retro-game window shopping) while I was down there!

Back when I lived in Fukuoka I used to do regular posts on here where I`d take my camera to local retro game shops and review them, but I haven`t been doing those since I moved last year.  The main reason for that is my new city, compared to Fukuoka, is very short on decent Famicom shops.  The few that I`ve been to have not been blog-worthy.  So I was really excited to be able to go do some retro game shop touring in Kobe and Osaka.  Today`s post will just be about Kobe!

Kobe is an awesome city if you`ve never been there.  I actually lived in or near Kobe for my first five years in Japan, but that was before I got into retro gaming so I had never been to any of the shops there.

Kobe doesn`t really have a retro gaming district (neither does Fukuoka though), but I did stumble almost by accident into a little cluster of cute retro game/toy stores in an unusual place.

The main train station in Kobe is in Sannomiya.  The JR tracks are elevated there and underneath there are a number of shoutengai (shopping alleys) that stretch for a couple of kilometres from Sannomiya to Motomachi and on to Kobe station. The photo at the top of this post is from one section of it.  This is what it looks like inside:
Near Sannomiya most of the shops are actually high end clothing and other fashion stuff, but as you work your way over to and past Motomachi they start to become dominated by more ecclectic little shops selling used electronics and other stuff.  Naturally some of them had retro game consoles, including some Famicoms: 

 Prices were not that great, about 5,000 yen or so for a Famicom.  Not a rip off, but you can do better on Yahoo Auctions.

Just walking along the narrow alleyway was quite fun, there were a lot of Famicom bits and pieces peaking out of windows here and there:
 This guy had a lot of stuff, mostly toys but also some retro game stuff:

 Including some Famicom carts in his glass case.  Again, prices were on the high side.  Those copies of Super Mario Bros. were 1500 yen each.
So if you are in Kobe definitely give the alleyways under the JR tracks between Sannomiya, Motomachi and Kobe stations a try.  Even if you don`t buy anything you`ll probably have a lot of fun browsing and exploring down there. There are probably some other good retro game hunting grounds in the city, but I only had a day to look around. In my next post I`ll show you retro game hunting in the bigger city of Osaka!


  1. I don't want to say you're back because I don't want to jinx it, but... yay! Another article! It's good to hear from you.

    Those are some neat pictures. You can tell the people who set up those displays had a lot of fun doing so.

  2. Thanks Skyrunner! I have a couple of more posts in the works in the next week or so!

  3. Sounds great! I'll be looking forward to it.

    Oh, and if you don't mind my asking, I recall you saying a while back you were going to be making articles about games at some point. You know, like reviews/playthroughs of games. Will you still be doing that at some point? I would really love to see your opinions on different Famicom games.

  4. Thanks. I don`t have any plans for those now, unfortunately time constraints are still pressing on me....(it takes so much time to actually play a game all the way through!)

  5. I was actually in Sannomiya in March for a weekend to go to a music festival. While we wandered around waiting to be able to check into our hotel, we didn't really look under the area around the tracks unfortunately.

    Also, is that guy seriously selling a PS1 for 4500? My local Book/Hard/Comp-Off has Dual Shock PSXs for 1500. I've been thinking about making it my next console.

  6. Hi Nate,

    Yeah, that PS1 is insanely over-priced. Actually pretty much everything under the tracks is overpriced retro-game wise (though there was one really good vintage toy store that had at least reasonable prices, but no video games). I would describe it as a place that is worth a visit just for window shopping and the ecclectic atmosphere, but there aren`t any bargains to be found.