Recently I had the opportunity to visit Japan for my day job. This was my first trip outside the US and I was a little nervous. I have to say though the people of Japan are some of the most kind and respectful people you will ever meet. They made my visit an incredible experience, and I am so glad I had this opportunity.
One of the first things I did when I found out I would be going was to reach out to the community on my favorite facebook board game group to see what the gaming scene in Japan was like. I was given many great recomendations for stores to go visit while I was there. I also found this excellent meetup group for Japanese gamers in Tokyo. If you’re going to be in Tokyo, I recommend reaching out to Mandy to see what they have going on.
ATTEMPTING TO FIND MY WAY AROUND
At first glance Tokyo looks like any large American city I’ve become accustomed to with skyscrapers, office buildings, mass transit, and parks.
But then you see the signs on the buildings and you realize, “you’re not in Kansas anymore.”
I finally made my way to the train station. I’m so thankful for google maps. They have this excellent mass transit section under their directions that tells you exactly which trains to take and how many stops. I’m not sure I would have made it around if it weren’t for that, as the train station was somewhat overwhelming even for someone who is familiar with the DC metro (plus all the station names were in Japanese).
On Friday, I made my way to the Akihabara district (or the electronics district). Akihabara is composed of store afer store of electronics (computers, ipads, ipods, gaming systems, etc) and anime. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I did find it amusing that there were people lined up for 2 blocks to get into this big grand opening of a Carls Junior in Akihabara.
One of the game stores that was recommended to me, Roll and Role Station, was located in Akihabara.
I finally found the location and realized it was located on the 6th floor of this tiny building crammed between two electronics stores. I made my way up the 6 flights of stairs and finally found the store.
It was a really great experience seeing how the Japanese gamer is much like the American gamer. We like the same games. Our game stores even look the same. This one had a nice area in the back for open gaming. There was a group setting up to play some Red Dragon Inn when I was there. I thought about joining them but wasn’t sure I would remember enough of what the cards said to actually play (they were using the Japanese version so I wouldn’t have been able to read the cards).
Unfortunately, I didn’t get an opportunity to check out the other two locations that were recommended to me: Shosen Book Mart (a comic book and game store) and Dear Spiele (a board game cafe). Next time I’m in Tokyo, I will definitely attend these.
Overall, the trip was a good experience. I would recommend if you are travelling internationally at all, check out this map here for gaming locations you may want to check out. It’s nice to see how similar we really are to our brothers and sisters around the world and how gaming really does bring us together.