Arcade pilgrims to Japan expect Disneyland: a grand culmination of a ceremonial journey. But while the Magic Kingdom gates are marked by fronds of palm, the line between Arcade and notArcade is so fine it disappears.
The stale indoor taste is in your throat already; the outdoor humidity clings on just through the door. But that’s the magic of it. Look at Adores Shimokitazawa, just carrying on, posters hanging out into the shopping precinct, doors slipping open and back, lapping waves of noise.
Japan’s arcades are not a world wonder, set aside and experience-designed by artists: they’re just another tenant of intensely priced commercial real estate. They’re not a fantasy held up by entrance fees and omnireal marketing.
Tokyo arcades are not a fiction: they’re a fact of life, a part of the ecosystem, a growth, a scourge, an accident that hasn’t been attended to.
In Tokyo, arcades are normal – so you can be too.
Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people