Messes and Malls

Japan’s heaven of arcades might not be what you think.

You gamers might go to Japan expecting to play grunge-chic candy cabs, smoky and crudded, in a Blade Runner grime-dive beneath neon towers. Hardcore gangs in trenchcoats and mohawks and stuff or something having it out on back-to-back Street Fighters with droop-ash cigarettes static in dry lips.

You can sort of find that, if you know where to look, but the lifeblood of modern Japanese arcading is in the orangey-red Segas padding out shopping centres with their nerd-targeted standees of unknown cash-creation-franchise characters. Which are beautiful in their own way.

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