In the Headlights

Sega Ikebukuro GiGO is a flagship Sega, more striking even than the four close branches in nerdopolis Akihabara.

It’s in a trendy town, full of shopping, eating and fun, not dominated by gaming and anime. Its exterior makes an effort – doesn’t assume everyone will see S-E-G-A and walk on in like ants to poison.

The entrance floor does its best with an insane volume of traffic. You will come to appreciate just how much weight an escalator needs to be able to carry at once.

The low floors filter out the casual visitors by presenting, as you ascend, in descending order, the most popular toys. If the tourists can resist the dazzle of UFO Catchers then Print Club then party games then rhythm games then lightgunners then racers, they will find themselves on upper levels, lost in long rows of the deep, online battle games that define Japanese arcade gaming in a way the West has never seen.

Here, two shoppers in dayclothes are rabbits in headlights, hands in pockets.

The workshirted regulars took the lift directly from the sidestreet and wait testily for the daytrippers to give up and go back down.

But don’t blink. There are retro cabinets up here and amazing fun to be had in the value-for-money tutorial modes of the convoluted franchises.

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people