You might get the feeling, if you keep even just a passing interest in this blog, that Kyoto is an unending series of connected temples and shrines. You'd also be excused for thinking that Ki and I must *surely* have seen them all many times over by now. NOT SO! A few weeks back, Ki identified somewhere on the map that we had maybe not yet been to. It was a weekend, and we had no plans, and so Ki pulled me away from Mario Galaxy in search of Chishaku-in. He'll tell you all about that in his posts, but on the way, we found... the original home of Nintendo.
One of the lovelier things about living in Kyoto as a Nintendo obsessive is that Nintendo's mark on the city crops up in day to day life. From more obvious marketing, such as their sponsorship of the local footie team, through to slightly more unexpected associations like Mario's status as mascot for the Kyoto Shinkin Bank. He can be seen punching the air on loan rate advertisements, and riding dolphins on ATM receipts. Convenience stores sell original Nintendo playing cards, and I've had taxi drivers light up with facts about the chairman when I mention what I do. One time I had a barman spend twenty minutes explaining to me how Nintendo has always been about the decay of society - first with gambling corrupting adults, and now with games corrupting kids. The gambling part, the old Nintendo, is what we stumbled upon on this particular journey.
I say stumbled - it was fairly deliberate. The last few jaunts that we've made over the higashiyama area of town have seen me try to factor in a detour, to no success. But here was my chance. We were on the very street! I knew it was close! Ki had a better idea of where it could have been, seeing as he explored the area earlier in the year, so we crossed the pretty little bridge over the river and there it stood. Yamauchi Nintendo. The building adorned (on every available surface) with a kanji character evoking 'luck'. The sign in English on the left of the door, Japanese on the right, proudly proclaims 'Playing Cards'. A far cry from their current market, this building seems no longer to be in active use, but is well looked after with security systems and signs of life.
There was nothing really magical about the building, but on that small street, across the road from the traditional food sellers and next to a peaceful stretch of the kamo river, it was hugely exciting and interesting to see that the place Nintendo left behind has stayed, like all the best bits of Kyoto, unchanged and unharmed by the marauding concrete and neon developments that blight the city centre.
Something something…. house of cards.
Nice little read, that was. :)
Basil - 05 12 07 - 08:01
I love that building. Man, I can’t believe I haven’t been following this blog.
Erik (Email) - 28 01 08 - 20:57