21st Century Arcade

Tokyo: What have arcades been doing since they left your country?

Japan’s arcades can disappoint dream-chasing gamer tourists, but here’s how to avoid a let-down.

When you slide into a Sega from the street, all you’ll see are UFO Catchers*. Where are the videogames?

Upstairs – and there’s a reason for that.

The latest big arcade games are fairly niche and complex. They’re mouse-and-joystick mech battlers, or twin-lightgun flying deathmatches, or madly contrived musical performances. UFO catchers are easy for anyone to have a try, so they welcome, don’t scare away.

So you’ll find the latest arcade games upstairs – just be ready to have your mind blown. There’s a reason arcade dreamers keep coming to Tokyo.

* “UFO Catcher” (“Yoo-fo catcher”) is Sega’s trademark for crane games that has become genericised in Japan.

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