Travel Japan Report – Pilgrimage to Nintendo’s Worldwide Headquarters (HQ), Kyoto, Japan
Previous articles in this series
- Travel Japan Report – Arrival at Narita Airport, Exploration of Ueno and Akihabara, Tokyo (nintendoscene.com)
You are here now on the second of a series of travel reports by myself covering my first trip to Japan in September of 2011. If you are new to this series then it would really be worth reading my first report. This will help bring you up to speed with my report here. It also explains who I am, how I got to Japan, along with other basic information such as; accommodation and initial budgets. Otherwise lets start with this my 2nd report..
Travel Japan Report – Pilgrimage to Nintendo’s Worldwide Headquarters (HQ), Kyoto, Japan
After overcoming the first two days of Tokyo’s electric atmosphere, we now excite ourselves in travelling on-wards to a major highlight of the trip. This would take part as a two day excursion to Kyoto – formerly the imperial capital of Japan. Kyoto should provide us with a tranquil setting. It’s famously known for it’s many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines along with it’s respectable Geisha ladies. But to us and myself it is more importantly known as the famously depicted residence of Nintendo’s Worldwide Headquarters. A pilgrimage point for every gamer visiting Japan.
Joining commuters for Tokyo Station and our Skinkansen (Bullet Train) to Kyoto, Japan
We set out from our Hotel (the Chisun Hotel in Ueno) to go to our nearest Tokyo Metro station, the Inaricho Station on the Ginza Line at around 08:00 – just in time for the famous Japanese rush. Luckily there’s a train every three minutes on the dot. Yes, the train was packed, I would say it’s just a little tighter than London’s rush hour. But the trains are bigger with more head height, making it easier to breathe than in London’s cramped tube carriages. The Ginza line train we took was heading into town, and with the next stop being Ueno Station, a major transport interchange station. It’s here that we changed and progressed on down towards Tokyo Station. We did see the famous platform pushers (If you don’t know them take a look at this YouTube Video.) but thankfully we were not subject to them in the direction we were travelling. But as our train was stationary at stations we did see them in action upon the commuters of the adjacent trains. For us male travelers in Japan I would say the experience of being squashed during the rush is fine and even actually quite funny. Nobody is rude, but yes you do get pushed, it’s all pretty respectful. You’ll all just get squeezed into the carriage, everyone pushing against you, you then push against the next person and so on. Nobody says sorry, so don’t expect it. A definite no no is stepping on people’s toes and/or feet. You will get a sorry from anyone who happens to step on your feet and you should say sorry if you are the culprit doing so. As for female passengers and the issue of groping.. My wife had no such issues throughout the whole of our time in Japan, that could have been down to me keeping her quite close to me. It being apparent that we were together, might have probably warded off anyone thinking about it. I am not sure how it would’ve run if you’re a solo female traveler. All I can then say is that it would not be hard for someone to grope you and you then not even being able to turn around, let alone determine who the offender was.
Arriving at Tokyo Station we were just totally disoriented. It was rush hour mad, people walking in every direction, zigzagging all over the place. Unlike Victoria Station back home in London, where the flow of commuters in generally in one direction. We left the Metro Lines and headed via massive underground halls towards the main like Tokyo Station platforms. We past a ticket barrier and progressed through these large underground spaces to reach the far end where the Shinkansen (Bullet) Trains arrive and depart from. There are ticket desks here with a mass of different information screens showing platforms, trains and carriage information including seat reservations. Our tickets were already bought with seat reservations (will be summarizing this info shortly). It was pretty easy to see our train on the main information screen. The language characters change between Japanese and Western every few seconds. We used our tickets and passed through the ticket barriers granting access to the Shinkansen platforms. Waiting on the platform we had a chance to look and absorb this very famous aspect to Japanese engineering and technology. The staff that service each train wait seriously and professionally on the planned platform for it’s arrival. You have the staff that man the catering trolleys, the conductors, cleaners and platform/station staff all without any hesitation as to what’s required. The platforms are super clean, railing guards line the edges of the platforms for some safety reason, with openings exactly where the train doors stop. There’s an all manner of different electronic sounds to indicate different things (not sure what though), some to signal incoming trains, others form some sort of countdown to a train’s departure. There’s a few different types of news agents that trade on the platforms. It’s worth taking in the different items on sale to the Japanese long distance traveler such as, hot and cold foods, snacks and literature. It’s fun to watch the assistants serve customers in the most professional manner and they time themselves perfectly with the arrivals and departures of the trains to and from their platforms. If you can it easily worth arriving early for your train, taking away the stress of having to rush plus you get to watch Japan move by all around you.
Boarding our Shinkansen train direction Osaka is all dead easy. On your ticket you’ll have the carriage number that in turn is indicated next to each of the train doors, Even before the train’s arrived the platforms themselves indicate the carriage numbers. Seat reservation numbers are printed on the ticket too. Certain carriages are dedicated to those travelers not reserving a seat, but obviously these are on a first come first serve basis.
For the Train and Hotel I used a London based booking agency called My Bus UK Ltd. (JTB Group) addressed at the Japan Center; Dorland House, 14-20 Regent Street London, SW1Y 4PH, UK (Google Maps Listing). My contact there is a very nice lady by the name of Makiko Tao and can be reached directly on +442019308192 or via email JGALON@jtb-europe.com. This agency booked me this two day trip organized by a Japanese company called Sunrise Tours and this is the link to the exact package we went for. I could have booked direct via Sunrise Tour’s website but MyBus is in London, meaning I could do it in person at their office and this hadn’t cost anything extra. The value of the whole trip offered by sunrise tours is excellent. Return train each way would have cost normally: ¥13,020 (x4 Totaling = ¥52,080 / GBP£450) including seat reservations. The Hotel was the Karasuma Kyoto Hotel, one double bedroom for two people at this hotel costs on average GBP£140 (I’ll be talking more about this hotel later on in this report). The whole tour set us back GBP£162.00 per person (Totaling GBP£324.00 as apose to £590 in booking independently).
- Outbound: Skinkansen Hikari (Bullet Train) Train Number 509 Depart Tokyo Station Platform 17 10:33am Wednesday – Arriving Kyoto Station Platform 13 13:15pm Wednesday – Duration 02:41hrs. Station Stop Timetable
- Accommodation: Karasuma Kyoto Hotel - Karasuma Shijo, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 600-8412, Japan. Check-in: Wednesday – Checkout: Thursday.
- Inbound/Return: Skinkansen Hikari (Bullet Train) Train Number 518 Depart Kyoto Station Platform 12 13:29pm Thursday – Arriving Tokyo Station Platform 15 16:10pm Thursday – Duration 02:41hrs. Station Stop Timetable
Sitting on the right hand side of the train in a twin seat looking out the window we are facing inland (Westward). This is a must for tourists as it’s the side that you’ll be able to glimpse a look at the awe inspiring Mount Fuji. Sunrise tours and pretty much every other tour operator makes a big deal out of reserving your seats on this side of the train for both your outward in inward bound train journeys, so there’s no real need to stress about it. If for some reason you’re unlucky in being able to have a seat reserved on this side of the train, it’s not too much of a worry, as exactly 25 minutes into your journey after you pass a pretty mountainous rang you’ll come into something like a plateau, looking back in the direction you came from you’ll see an absolutely massive mountain. A very impressive sight. I’ve been told that sometimes it’s not possible to see Mount Fuji from the train-line due to clouds. I guess I’d have had another chance to see it again on the return trip (which I did).
The bullet train (Shinkansen) itself is quite an experiences in itself. Very smooth and very fast. Coming from the UK, you’ll be surprised at just how much leg room each passenger is offered. You can really stretch your legs very easily. Walkways are wide, seats comfortable and everyone is generally very quite too. A ticket inspector regularly walks the train and promptly checks the tickets of those that have joined at stations along the route. Toilets are not far and there’s a number of cubicles for different toiletry requirements; Pisser for us blokes, western style toilets and the more traditional Japanese squat toilets. Some carriages even have a payphone box. This only accepts specific telephone cards to make calls. Although the journey time is over two hours, time really does flyby aboard. Fortunately the train we were on never really got busy and was almost throughout the whole journey, only half full.
Arriving at Kyoto station we were hit instantly by the heat. Yes, it was hot in Tokyo but this felt unbearable at times. We went into the station’s main hall, that’s filled with loads of shops and restaurants. Kyoto forms something of a grand gate between North and South Kyoto funneling huge streams of people thought it and the department store and shops that accommodate themselves in this massive building. We were thankful that it provided us with some cool air as stepping out in the sun burnt us instantaneously. Knowing that we’d return here again we left to make our way to the booked hotel..
Heading for our Hotel
Walking North out of Kyoto station we headed straight along the main road. Yes, it was hot but looking to our left there was a great big temple. This temple called Hongan-ji (Google Maps Listing) is now the largest wooded structure in the world (since Korea’s Namdaemun Gate burnt down in 2008 – report). We went inside and was very humbled by the serenity within it’s outer walls. We wandered around and went up the grand steps, of course taking our shoes off beforehand. Going inside we sat within it’s main hall and soaked up it’s tranquil ambiance. Although we hadn’t come here for this what is Kyoto’s main tourist attraction, the shrines and temples, we did enjoy being able to see at least this one. Plus it was all free with no admission charge.
Walking on further and crossing a major crossroad passing many family-marts and many other convenience stores we made it to our hotel and noticed shortly before that it is smack down close to the Shijo metro station, two stops from Kyoto station. No regrets though, if we’d have taken the metro we’d have missed the temple and the experience of walking in the sheer heat. The Karasuma Kyoto Hotel (Google Maps Listing) looks impressive from the outside and even has its own Starbucks within it’s lobby area. the TripAdvisor listing for this Hotel rates it well and there were no concerns beforehand. Yes, there’s some negative reviews, but these seem to have been posted before the hotel underwent a refurbishment. Checking in was a breeze with no issues, our booking was on file thanks to Sunrise Tours, we got our key-card and headed for the lift. Getting to our room we turned on the air-con before anything else. Assessing our twin room; first and foremost we ascertained a working LAN broadband connection. If you didn’t bring a computer with you, there’s two free to use that are positioned in the lobby area near the main lifts. The room had everything, international TV, kettle that dispensed hot water out of a spout. Comfortable beds and a great big window looking out Westwards over Kyoto. The view from up here was wonderful, seeing the city stretch out with the hills/mountains rising up in the distant surrounding the view. The bathroom had all the same fixtures as well as the super toilet that our Tokyo hotel had. All manner of toiletries are supplied from combs to toothbrushes to razors. The location of the hotel really lends itself out as a recommendation. You’ve got major shrines and temples all around it. It’s within walking distance to some of the more major sights around Kyoto and is maybe 15 to 20 minutes direct walk to Kyoto station. If you’d like to take the tourist bus (Raku Bus), it stops nearby too. But the Shijo metro station positioned just next to the hotel, will take you everywhere else. Our stay didn’t include breakfast but you can get this easily from the many coffee shops dotted around the hotel for a better price, plus you get to experience some local life. Admittedly this was a better hotel and room than what we had booked back in Tokyo. But this one was more expensive and located in a totally other type of location. None the less, we had a shower to cool down and refresh ourselves from the heat outside, before preparing ourselves to embark on our final leg of pilgrimage to Nintendo Headquarters..
The decent upon Nintendo Headquarters – this is what it’s all about.
All refreshed, we head out boldly from our Hotel leaving the lobby and stepping out into the heat, looking around for the entrance to the Kyoto Shijo Metro Station (K09, K meaning Karasuma Line). Our exact route of this pilgrimage is mapped out here on this google directions map. We walked shortly Northwards finding the our way down to the Metro’s ticket hall, it’s all mad busy here and we just stood looking up at the Metro map. After staring at the scene for a good 10 minutes we realized that the map, showing all stops with Yen prices associated along each, with this price increasing the further away the station is from ours. It’s pretty clear that’s the cost of travelling to a station from ours. So we turn our attention to self service machines and hit up a few buttons with the screen showing a figures similar to those on the maps as you go down through the options. We select the option that came to ¥250, dropped some coins in and out comes a small billet paper with a magnetic strip on it’s underside. We walked over to the ticket barriers, much like the one’s in the London underground so no fear here. Following the crowd we descend into Kyoto’s Subway system. After a short wait on the platform we know we can take any train southbound, and get on the very next train. Too excited to sit we stand at the front of the train just behind the driver. In this subway system passengers are able to view the driver and out the carriage before him. This is an experience us Londoners don’t get to enjoy. The train progresses through the stations quickly including the main central Kyoto station where a lot of people join us. Reaching Jujo (K13) station in just over ten minutes with disembark along with only 5 or so fellow passengers we immediately get the feeling this is a destitute place. Walking the length of platform, which most certainly sees Nintendo employees commute through it on a regular basis. We already feel humbled. A number of trains arrive in both directions, although they’re packed with people, hardly anyone gets off at this station. Perhaps it’s the time of day. We decide enough of this madness, and after all with nothing more than a payphone on it’s platform, it’s only a tube station. Taking the escalator up to the ticket barriers we see only two stations guards sitting in their booth by the barriers. Making our way through and having our tickets swallowed by the machine never to be seen again, we take a look at the local map, which very much understates Nintendo’s presence near this humble station.
Taking exit four from the station, which is a lift. We waited a little while and for an elderly couple to arrive within it. Taking it and reaching ground level we get our first glimpse of Nintendo’s own neighbourhood. There’s not much to say other than there’s a Lawson and Seven Eleven convenience store outside the station. Disinterested in them we head South for the second road on our right. Only a few steps along passing Choyodo Printing Co., Ltd, we take our second right and see a small green space that splits the road into two directions. We take the angle off to the left (Southern), low and behold and before we expected to, we capture our first sight of Nintendo’s HQ building! A true sight to behold. Only being able to see it’s uper left corner, we’ve become accustomed to the building’s look thanks to the many occasions we’ve seen it’s image in print and online. The building’s facade is unmistakable. We know at this point that we are no further than 150 meters from it. We press on towards the building in no real rush, knowing that we have no real time pressures upon us.
Walking past this green space (Map) we notice it has become a disused playground. What looks to have once been a pretty playful space for children of the locality it now seems to have become an apocalyptic scene. Judging by the StreetView images this was once a looked after space. Now large size figures of giraffes and camels are halfway buried in the ground with their paint flaking, a rusty slide with a thin layer of moss growing on it, and something that looks to have been a ramp leading to a sand pit. The area has become over grown, making you wonder why it is so. Where have all the children gone? Are they even around anymore? Was this once more of a residential area turned into what is blatantly now an industrial zone? There’s still many residential buildings here, which you can see from the pictures throughout. Perhaps, the children are just playing indoors nowadays with their many Nintendo consoles.
Walking on past the playground we venture further and deeper into this industrial zone. peering through a window to a courtyard we see a business that cleans the old but stylish Japanese taxis. These taxis look as though they came into service back in the 70s or 80s, perhaps even earlier. It gives us a real impression of the area that Nintendo has positioned it’s headquarters within. It’s no silicon valley by any stretch of the imagination. But a diverse mix of different businesses all doing their own thing. Walking onwards we pass a group of people that I would have guessed came from Nintendo HQ itself. The only thing that makes me almost sure of it is that I StreetPassed two of them. It was the start of what would be many StreetPass hits. Deciding not to take the most direct route to Nintendo HQ, we veered further South to what was busy high road running parallel to where we were. We walked on past a serviced petrol station called Cosmo Station where mechanics where pressure checking their customer’s cars and a number of which were queued up, it’s shop selling the usual confectionery. We passed busy forklift trucks and small industrial units. But every so often there was a residential house in-between not to mention some handy automated vending machines. Little did we know how close we were..
Nintendo HQ Standing Before Us
Walking straight we passed some small retail units and a residential block of flats to a corner that housed a noodle restaurant on our right. The video below captures the moment we come face to face with Nintendo HQ.
Standing on the corner opposite the entrance, we take a good few minutes to savour the moment of reaching Nintendo HQ. The building towers higher and wider over us, it is larger than we had imagined. It was hot, really hot. Looking into the buildings courtyard through it’s main entrance gate we see it’s security watchbox, a somewhat famous point of this Nintendo HQ compound as it’s what stops all other such visitors as ourselves from making for the main building. If only it didn’t exist, I would happily reach out to touch this famous building with my own hands. If only I could get close enough to peer into the windows. But I guess if lines were not drawn I would only be happier still to enter the building for myself and walk it’s corridors. We chilled out around the building’s entrance taking tons of pictures. looking at every detail knowing that it would be long time (if ever) for our return. I took this opportunity to have a picture taken of me holding the UK’s Official Nintendo Magazine. I hadn’t thought it would appear in their regular “ONM on Tour” section but on my return back to the UK I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had indeed been assigned to print. Being in a magazine with an average circulation of 44,000 is pretty neat for me.
Eventually and with enough courage, I hesitantly approached this security guard post. Getting closer I can see the guard within getting ready. By the time I reach the window he knows I’m another senseless pilgrim that’s going to ask for the millionth time the same bloody questions. Such as, “can I see Miyamoto?” or “Can I see inside?”, something stupid like that. Setting my expectations lower than those examples, I think merely of asking for a picture, would be a too basic a request to make? Never the less, by the time I’ve already finished my sentence, has the old boy security guard (60 something Years old) held his arms up in an X-Men Wolverine style Cross (no joke) and uttering some fairly staunch Japanese orders along the lines of, “Get out now!”. I am I forced to retreat back to the Street I emerged from. I guess he’s only doing his job and seems to be pretty good at it too. Before my trip to Japan I had thought the guard might have been nice enough to perhaps have signed my 3DS. But this would have counted on me befriending him somewhat first. Just after my exit a staff member leaving the compound saw what I had tried to do achieve and offered to take my picture with my own 3DS. I promptly handed it over and so the picture below was taken. At the same time I so happened to StreetPass this employee too.
The Sun was starting to turn downwards and it’s rays hindered our view of the building from this viewpoint. We glanced away from the building to notice two convenience stores, one being seven eleven and the other being Lawson. The temperature was in excess of 34C so we headed first for the Seven Eleven store. Entering the store we were kissed by the sweet coolness of it’s air conditioning. Wondering it’s aisles just trying too cool down the only gaming related wares we could find were the Nintendo points cards and a few copies of Famitsu magazine. As it happens this is were I picked up my own copy of Famitsu that showed us the first images of the 3DS Circle Pad Pro that created a real storm at the time. It’s a sweet thought to think that Nintendo employees are most probably heading here in the mornings before work or during their lunch breaks to pick up a copy of Famitsu themselves, along with a cool Milk Tea drink or something. As well as the Famitsu magazine, I bought a 500ml can of coke for the decent price of ¥100. Leaving the shop and realizing again just where we were in the world we stood directly opposite Nintendo HQ on the other side of the fairly busy junction to take the following video. Hopefully it can give you a good sense of the area.
Milling around we see plenty of HGVs passing, a fair few taxis and then some usual traffic. Observing those coming and going from Nintendo HQ we can say that every 10 minutes or so there’s someone either coming or going from the building with a good few taxis per hour bringing both male and female guests/employees to the building each of them checking in and out at the security desk. At this some point nature had to call and we were wondering on where to answer this call. Facing Nintendo HQ and looking to the immediate left of it, we see a petrol service station that seems exclusive to taxi drivers. Figuring taxi drivers all hang out wherever there’s a toilet, this would be the best place to investigate. Sure enough to the side of the building there’s a traditional Japanese squat toilet.
Walking Nintendo HQ’s Perimeter
Now empty and feeling emboldened we decide to go for a walk around Nintendo’s perimeter walls to see just how imposing the building is. Setting off along the road and heading West from Petrol station away from Nintendo’s main entrance. There’s no shops or retailers of any kind on this stretch. Walking along with the sun setting before us, looking at Nintendo’s perfectly trimmed hedge lining their wall, the scene is calm and blissful. I take the opportunity and risk being seen on Nintendo’s security cameras, reaching out I pluck a small branch of leaves from this neatly trimmed hedge. I’ve preserved it as my own souvenier of the trip. On the left of the road on the opposite side there’s a road that leads off to some residential properties and as we walk further there’s something like a covered Taxi yard with a fair few taxis parked. Reaching the end of Nintendo’s perimeter wall you can see a Nintendo security camera and the fencing for the employees’ tennis court. After which there’s a new industrial estate with a car park beside a large building. Upon this building is the name HORIBA and looking up their site, they were founded by Masao Horiba another Kyoto local to continue Japan’s nuclear physics research. Now the company works on industrial components for medical and testing equipment. Although it’s forecourt is accessible and would bring me a little more along Nintendo’s perimeter wall, it is private property so I decide to walk further along the road to the next turning. Walking along, there’s a warehouse on the left and a loading bay for the HORIBA building. Coming to the end of this road with turns off to left, there’s a footpath straight ahead, and a small industrial forecourt that houses two warehouse style buildings. This address is actually that of Nintendo HQ. If you send a letter here it should well arrive at Iwata’s secretary and possibly the man himself. The address is Nintendo Company, Ltd., 11-1 Kamitoba-hokotate-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto 601-8501, Japan. Phone +81756629600, and is also listed as their Japanese distributors address here. With not much else to see, I go along the small footpath with a large baseball pitch to my left and looking over to my right I can see the backside of the Nintendo HQ Building.
With no baseball game to watch and the Nintendo HQ view not changing we carry on Northwards. Reaching the corner of the Baseball pitch and the perimeter wall with the West to East road. There’s nothing at all here of interest. I can say that the perimeter wall is of waist-high. But jumping it would only bring you into a large empty courtyard with another further long building between you and Nintendo’s HQ building. Walking along this long stretch we reach one of two entrance gates to this empty large space. This gate is closed, there are mirrors and security cameras guarding it. But the second gate is open and there doesn’t seem to be any guard or watch box here. I am not too sure if this is indeed Nintendo property but judging by the perimeter wall and the facade, I would say it is. From what I can tell, it all seems to be some kind of loading yard which was in a barren state with no signs of activity. Looking around there’s a handful of residential properties on the other side of the road. with more industrial units opposite the crossing. I carry on and taking a right back down to Nintendo’s main entrance.
Nintendo HQ’s Main Entrance
Arriving back to where I began, I feel comforted to be in such a special place. I take my time to look over details I hadn’t noticed first time round. Looking back into the main forecourt I see that the very first windows at the nearest corner are in fact the windows to the employee canteen. I can see a number of people sitting down with trays to tables that accommodate four seated at a time. I can’t make out faces as the light in the area is too dark and the sun has dimmed behind the building, but I only saw males shirted quite professional and they seemed in close discussion (perhaps talking of Nintendo’s next mega hit). Next to the main gate there’s a kind of side/out of hours entrance with a fob access panel that takes you in to just before the watchbox. The interesting aspect to this entrance is the paving leading up to it. See the picture below, but I can best describe it as very reminiscent of the Tetris game with what looks like a falling block. Makes a very nice touch to what could be considered a bland building.
Leave Nintendo For Kyoto Station
Feeling that we’d taken all that could from this visit, we decide to call it a day and head back to our hotel via Kyoto station. This time instead of returning by Kyoto metro with which we came here, we decided to walk directly North to Kyoto station taking this walking route. This is a route many used to arrive at Nintendo and we thought we should experience this route too. So walking away with solemn hearts we continually looked over our shoulders to glimpse this shrinking Nintendo HQ building. We walked up Shin-Machi Dori (Street) back along Nintendo perimeter wall, the first sight we notice is the much pictured and so called rice paddy that appears in nearly all Nintendo HQ visiting reports. I am not to clued up on this and would say it’s not really a rice paddy, then again I haven’t a better idea as to what is actually being grown here. Never the less it is positioned between two residential buildings and the farmer was not to be seen on this occasion. The Shin-Machi Dori (Street) weaves through many crossings and a number residential and industrial blocks. After taking in our last glimpse of Nintendo’s cube like building, we see a nice building with a Studio Melody mural on it. Not sure what it’s business is but I have the feeling it’s some kind of karaoke joint. We’ve heard that Miyamoto might have a signing talent and a passion for karaoke, perhaps this is the place he flexes those vocals. The only other significant building is a tower that has kyo-ichi written atop it, you’ll know it when you see it. Walking further up and past a number of Ramen stops the road becomes very narrow until we break through to a main road that signifies our coming to Kyoto’s main station.
This draws the main purpose of our Kyoto two day trip to an end. We spent the rest of the evening dinning around Kyoto station and enjoying the mild coolness of the after dark. This part of town is particulalry beautiful, standing below the Kyoto Tower we reminisce at the feat we accomplished today. We then headed back to our hotel to bed down for the night before our trip back to Tokyo. On waking the next day we didn’t much other than checkout and head to the station. For the return train journey we bought some bento boxes from another hugely popular ¥250 takeaway shop (Street View) on the Karasuma Dori. In Kyoto Station we had some time to spear so bought some Mister Donuts as highlighted by Luke Harrison on his own hugely informative travel reports from Japan here. Heading up to the stations viewing observatory, giving an awesome view of Kyoto I was keen to spot Nintendo HQ one last time. There it was, a bit hazy but clear enough none the less, it is pictured below. Boarding the return Shinkansen to Tokyo comforted to be sitting on the left hand side for another view of Mount Fuji we felt fulfilled in seeing two on Nintendo’s most significant giants.
There are still plenty of reports to come. I’ll be writing more on my visit to points around Tokyo, including a revisit to Akihabara. So please follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds to be notified of them as well as our other Nintendo reportage.
There’s Still More of Nintendo Here To See
There are some other notable Nintendo landmarks for gaming enthusiasts. If you’ve made it to the Nintendo HQ building and have an hour to spear it’s very much worth the 22 minute walk to go and see Nintendo’s research and development facility off to the East. Here’s a Google Map’s walking directions here, it’ll also bring you to a Train Station called Tobakaido on the Keihan Main Line that can take you to Kyoto’s main central station with one change at Tofukuji Station for the JR Nara Line. This single fair for this stretch of the trip costs ¥270 and runs every 25mins or so. Although not as significant, Nintendo’s R&D Faculty is important for any Nintendo fan to pay homage to. It also has a neat tennis court on it’s roof for employees. It can been seen via Google Maps Satellite view here. Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft wrote a short piece here on how to visit the R&D building.
There is another Nintendo HQ building from back in the days, when Nintendo was simply a Hanafuda playing card producer. This small and seemingly insignificant building is positioned North East of Kyoto’s main train station and not very far from my Hotel either. The basement of the building also houses the tomb of Fusajiro Yamauchi (Nintendo’s Founder) when the company was known as Nintendo Koppai. It is said that Hiroshi Yamauchi pays this tomb here in this building a visit once a Month on the same day and time. Here’s the Google StreetView of the building and it’s location and a little something written about the building by Daniel Sloan in his Playing to Wiin book. It’s highly recommended that you at least try to pay this place a visit if you’re in town, plus there’s some other cool places around the area. This is a link to a local guide explaining some other attractions. Although I would say it’s a second must see to Nintendo’s present HQ building South of this, there is absolutely no way that you’ll get a looking in this building. There’s not even a security guard as there is over at their new HQ, the building is simply locked shut. But it is worth having yourself pictured before such an historic place, especially if your an avid Nintendo gamer. You could always check if the backdoor is open as Daniel Watts did when he visited the place back in 2007. Reported on by Brian Crecente for Kotaku, he videoed himself sneakily entering the building via an unsecured backdoor. But before he gets to sneak around he’s rustled by a lady and is shown the company’s collection of playing cards before awkwardly leaving. What a lucky guy. Here’s the actual video below.