Sunday, May 11, 2014

Retro Game Shopping in....Nagoya! Part 1 Osu

 Nagoya is not generally known as a major tourist centre.  That is because it isn`t one.  Its an industrial city that was heavily bombed during the war and thus doesn`t have much in the way of traditional sites that most visitors to Japan are looking for.

It is, however, the third largest urban centre in Japan (technically the fourth largest `city`, but the number 1 and 2 on that list, Tokyo and Yokohama, are more or less one massive urban blob), and as such it is one of the few cities in Japan - in addition to Osaka (Den Den Town) and Tokyo (Akihabara) to possess an actual gaming/otaku neighorhood of its own: Osu.  So this will be the first in a series of two posts in which I take you through the retro gaming haven of Nagoya`s Osu neighborhood.

 Osu is a fairly large neighborhood comparable in size to Osaka`s Den Den Town.  From a retro gaming perspective though I would rate it a bit lower.  Den Den Town is primarily an electronics and gaming neighborhood while Osu, in terms of shops, skews a bit more towards the manga and cosplay end of the Otaku-verse. Nonetheless it does have a few worth taking in.

Most of Osu is made up of a series of pedestrian only streets covered by arcade roofs.  These are a lot of fun to walk around, filled with tons of neat shops, arcade centres and pachinko halls.
The retro gaming shops however are mostly centred on a street without an arcade roof, called Akamon Street.  It is easy to find with its red gate (Akamon means red gate).

 The street has a fair number of neat shops selling random used stuff, a lot of them computer or gaming related.  The first one that has Famicom stuff you will come across is called K-House
 It has a bunch of CDs and other stuff piled out front on the sidewalk, you can see some SFC and Famicom games crammed in the back:
 They have a pretty sizeable selection of gaming stuff (they also sell DVDs and CDs) inside:

The prices, however, are among the worst I have seen anywhere in Japan.  This shop gouges so badly I would describe them as approaching Toronto levels.  These red and white Famicoms for example (modded for AV) are priced at 7200 yen (about $75 US) each, which is way more than what they should be priced at.

 The Super Famicom controllers in this box were 1200 yen (12$) each, about double what I would describe as a fair market price for them.
 And the Famicom games were just indescribably overpriced.  The only good thing I can say is that at least they had a decent selection of them.

Leaving K-House about 100 metres on the ssame side of the street you will see some N-64 controllers lying causually about getting a tan:
 These are hooked up to a TV so you can play Smash Bros. on the sidewalk, which is without a doubt the coolest thing in Nagoya.  This shop is called Meikoya, located in a small building whose second floor is a shop dedicated to Korean pop idol goods:

This is a much much better shop than K-House.  The prices are generally in the `slightly high but still fair` zone, like what they are asking for these Rockmans here:

Or 3780 yen for Contra, which is close to what that goes for on Yahoo Auctions

They have a pretty decent pile of AV Famicoms in there

And their game selection is pretty good:

 They had one thing which caught my eye, a cart for the Famicom Karaoke set.  I have the microphone for this but not the cart (which has the music).  At 3490 yen I decided to give it a pass, but I thought it was cool that they at least had it:
 Those are two of the main retro gaming shops on Akamon street.  In the next post I`ll look at the biggest in town: Mandarake!


  1. Wow, this must be a store that sells on eBay or something. Since I'm in the United States I would find these things to be fair prices, but if I'm going to Japan I wouldn't pay that much. I wish I could get a Famicom, but the cheapest price is $40 shipped for a as is unit with three cheapo games. To AV mod it as well as modifying the controllers to accept NES ports is also just as money consuming. Sigh.

  2. Is THAT a Dreamcast ASCII pad in the AV Famicom picture? Crap, I want that thing!

  3. Ah, man. I went to Nagoya when I had some time off in Spring (only because I hadn't been there yet and it's fairly easy to get to from where I live, also as you said it's the 3rd or 4th biggest metropolis in Japan so I might as well go check it out) and was unaware of this area. Next time I guess.

    It's funny, when I told people I was going to Nagoya, I heard that whole "It's not really a touristy area so there isn't much to do" thing multiple times. Even when I saw my friends there on the first night they told me the same thing. That said, I had a fun time anyway. My favorite thing was the Toyota Automobile Museum. It's pretty far from central Nagoya but totally worth it. Plus you get to take that Maglev Train there.

    Admittedly, as I was by myself, I did end up spend some time hanging out watching TV and using the onsen at my hotel when I ran out of stuff to do, but you know, you sometimes need that. It's vacation after all.

    I will say though, it seems like Nagoya is a really really easy city to live in.

  4. Angryrider - yeah, looks like Ebay prices (high Ebay prices at that)!. Actually $40 for a Famicom including shipping and 3 games doesn`t sound too bad to me. Not a steal, but not bad.

    Not sure if it is a Dreamcast ASCII pad in the photo, it was in the Famicom section so maybe not, but I don`t know for sure!

    Nate - I know what you mean. Nagoya is not a bad city, it just doesn`t have as much nice stuff as the Kansai area or Tokyo. I haven`t been to the Toyota Museum, but I keep meaning to check it out. The centre of the city is pretty cool, it has that big city feeling but also has some attractive areas around the Tower.

    Next time you go, definitely check out Osu, I think it is the most interesting part of Nagoya but it doesn`t feature in any guide books or anything. It is in the downtown area, just take the Meijo subway line to Osu Kannon station, which will dump you right next to the temple pictured at the top of this post (which marks the start of the shopping arcades).

  5. Dang, mew shoulda gotten the game! I'd like to see a karaoke game on the FC get played. And what games were in the arcades?

  6. Tons of stuff in the arcades. Actually they have one really old school arcade that I didn`t go into (but plan on doing so) which looks like it might have some old machines!

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