|Japan Video Game Hunting 2019/2020|
posted by Kaneda – on Sat. 11.January 2020
This was maybe my craziest idea to go to Japan at the turn of the year. I never did it before, knowing the overcrowded public trains and places will be reality. But at the same time I always try to find out, what is the best season for vg hunting(?). Hyped by many (Hard Off) youtube videos and tracking down all thouse locations, I was ready for another adventure! Here comes a review to (V)ideo (G)ame hunting 19/20. A journey to the east, featuring Surugayas and Potatoes
# Super Famicom
☑ lot of org. AV cables for < $3 each
☑ good deal soft
# Nintendo Switch
☐ DARIUS Cozmic Collection (jp)
☐ Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet (jp)
# Sega Saturn
☐ S Bom Multi Tap
☐ Controllers .... lot of Controllers
☐ variants of Sega Saturn consoles
☑ good deal games
☐ PlayStation Console NTSC/J SCPH-1001 even junk
☐ R-Type Delta (black or red lable)
☑ good deal games
# Sega Dreamcast
☐ Console in a orange box with president Hidekazu Yukawa
☐ Capcom Vs SNK
☐ Capcom Vs SNK 2
☐ good deal games
# PlayStation 2
☐ PlayStation 2 slim console NTSC/J SCPH-700xx V12 or V13
☑ NEO GEO Stick 2
☑ Metal Slug Series
☐ ADK Damashii
☑ good deals games
# Game Cube
☐ Orange Game Cube (with box)
☐ Orange GBA Player
☐ Biohazard games
☑ good deal games
# NEO GEO AES
☑ Real Bout Fatal Fury
☐ King of Fighters 95
☑ King of Fighters 97
☐ King of Fighters 2000
☑ サムライスピリッツ天草降臨 Samurai Supirittsu Amakusa Kōrin
# Mini Consoles
☐ Famicom Mini (jp)
☐ Super Famicom Mini (jp)
☐ MagaDrive Mini (jp)
☐ Neo Geo Mini (jp)
# Game Soundtracks
☐ Tenchu (from Noriyuki Asakura)
☐ Momoko Kikuchi - Adventure (1986) full album
☑ Chisato Moritaka CDs
27.12.2019 The arrival
December 27/2019 the day I arrived at Narita Airport, together with bunch of a Japanese pleople from Düsseldorf and just a hand full of tourists, who also were crazy enough to come at this time to Japan, just to find out that the JR connection between Narita Airport and Tokyo station has been shut down due to the "strong wind" *facepalm*. The good thing was, that everyone who has a JR Pass could use Keisei line for free. Going first to Nippori station, from where you could take Yamanote to Tokyo station, if you have to. They even made a fully pictured guide in english for first time visitors, to make it easier for them .... how cute! :)
After arriving at Tokyo station, I met up with my friends and we went for a dinner in "TsuruTonTan" UDON restaurant near Gizna where my Hotel was located. I could also see one of my friends, who I did not saw for a quite some time. It was a nice evening and a great start for this journey!
28.12.2019 The crazy ride begins!
On the very next day after arriving in Japan, I took Shinkansen all the way from Tokyo to Kokura Station (Kita-Kyushu) at 7am in the morning to be able to go shopping on the afternoon in Fukuoka city. Holidays just started in Japan and you could realy feel it by seeing how many people were at the stations. I tried to get a reservation for the seat, but I failed. This is when I realized, yes it was a creazy idea! :D ..... I was lucky to get a seat in one of the non-reserved cars (usually front of the train cars 1-3 or 1-5) But actually it was not so bad, there was plenty of free seats when we took off from Tokyo station. But the close we got to Osaka, the more I could feel Japanese holidays ;) At changing the train in Shin-Kobe it was clear that I have to stand all the way to Kokura (about 2h) But it was ok. For a well trained relatively young guy like me, it is more an exercise then a torture. ^^
My plan was to stay two nights in a hotel close to Kokura station, going from there to Kumamoto and Fukuoka. In Fukuoka my plan was to visit Surugaya store in Tenjin area and also Mandarake that was just only 700m away. I did this on the same day I arrived in Kokura, because I still had (thanks to Shinkansen) half of a day and I new I would need one whole day for going to Kumamoto and visiting all Hard Off stores on my list. Although even a whole day would be not enough for it :/ anyway.
Before goin to Fukuoka, I made a brief visit at Surugaya (AruAruCity) to check if they have something from my list and note the prizes. After about one hour, I took Sakura Shinkansen to Fukuoka (that was only a 15 min ride) and went to the city to find the stores. I was visiting Fukuoka for the first time and it was not just a straight go to the shop. In case of Surugaya (located in Tenjin area) was a little bit tricky. It was in a building with many shops inside, where I could not find any signs or logos outside. I was not sure, but I decided to just walk in and use elevator to go up to the highest floor. I found Surugaya at the 8th floor. I could not miss it, because the entrance to the store is facing the elevator. Left to the entrance they have a showcase with high price rated games in it. To my surprize also a lot of Neo Geo games that I had on my wishlist. The store it self is even bigger as the Surugaya in Kokura, but more then a half of it was not dedicaded to VG, so at the end I would say it is a same size but the condition of the games a little bit worse then in Kokura's store. Also the Neo Geo games, that I was interested in, did not met my condition standards. After opening the showcase and examining them closely, I decided to leave them there. But I managed to find something there, including a weird game called LADY STALKER and a demo disc of LUNAR on MEGA-CD. Photos of all Fukuoka gets down below.
Arround the Kokura station | megadrive gachapon
Mandarake kind a disappoint me first. That was until the very end, when I was already about to leave the store. I desided to give a last spin arround, to see what they also have beside the video games. I don't know why I did not saw their showcase at first, but I found there something interesting for a very cheap prize. Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury movies on LaserDiscs!
I reduced the number of HARD-OFFs, that I planed to visit in Kumamoto, from 4 to 2. I did that because of my plan to give a longer visit to Surugaya in AruAruCity, where I knew I had to spend more time in and dig in to a large variety of games that they had. Hard-OFFs are usually cheaper but the condition and variety is usually much lower as in dedicated stores.
First Hard-OFF I visited was in northern Kumamoto area (Kita-Kumamoto). The closest station I could get to there with a JR Pass, was Kami-Kumamoto. From there it was possible to take a different train, but I was way to early there and did not wanted to pay extra for the ticket. I decided to take a 2km walk thru the "urban" area.
I was about 15 min to early, when I arrived at the location. Next to the Hard-OFF was another store called Mr. Max, that was already open. I went inside to find out that it was kind of "all on one" store, where you could get everything from food & clothes to electronics. I found a small game area and a bunch of amiibo's there. Nothing special.... but wait they had a Link, from a remake Link's awakening! Even three of them!! (At that time, Link was always sold out everywhere in Europe) I got one for me and payed about 14€ for it. It was also possible to come out tax free, but in this case I had to spend there at least ¥5000 (about 40€), what was not worth it. Although to stock up on Japanese snacks and sweets was very tempting.^^
When Hard-OFF opened, two other (local?) dudes went inside with only one interest. Digging in game junk :D No wonder that visitors from outside like me, would never find a nice deal. Nevertheless I could find something for me, including a spontaneous buy, NeoGeoCD with 2 PADs and original powersupply. All in mint shape for a decent price. To my surprise, the power supply for the Neo Geo CD is not a bloody heavy transformator, but a compact switching mode power supply. Pretty advance for that time when it came out. It has to deliver two different voltages, maybe that was also the reason for this.
The second Hard-OFF was in south area near to Hesei station. This one was less special to me. I just got only 1 game here to complete my Jap. copy of Zelda Links awakening with a manual and a bunch of original Nintendo AV cables from the JUNK section. Although they had lot of stuff there, the condition was far from ok. It was already early afternoon and a time for return to Kokura, for a last visit in Surugaya (AruAruCity) including some WTF moments on the way back.
Gets from Mr. Max, Kumamoto Hard OFFs and Surugaya (AruAruCity)
On 30.12 I left Kokura with destination Nagoya, where I would also stay overnight. On the way to Nagoya I wanted to stop for shopping at Osaka DenDen Town and a small city between Osaka & Kyoto, Takatsuki. I went first to Takatsuki, leaving all my luggage at Osaka station. Takatsuki can't be reached by Shinkansen, you have to use a regular JR train.
There is a small Surugaya specialty store near the Takatsuki station. Last time I went here in the beginning of 2019 with a friend. We could find a lot of nice deals including two Famicom Jr in mint condition and some games. This time I directly realized that the space dedicated to vg was shrunken. I don't know the reason for that and just hoped that this is just a temporary issue. I did find something for me there this time. Although defenetly not the best deal, but Neo Geo stick for the PS2 I could not just leave there. This one was even boxed and in "like new" shape. I was aware that this box take a lot o space of my luggage and remember struggling with the idea to take or not. I checked the condition at the checkout counter before buying it. "¥7600 + tax" they said. "It's my!", I said. That orange Gamecube in a bleached box went nowhere.
Surugaya in Takatsuki & all gets from there
Same day at the afternoon, I found my self in Den-Den district of Osaka. Both Super Potatoes there have the biggest sortiment of hard and software in Japan and worth to visit, even if you not interested in video games. I guess it's their presentation. Everywhere are handdrawn sale signs, posters, and just a lot of stuff. Check out this Pokemon wall!
The problem for me was, that I only had a small amount of space in my bag. My luggage, that I left at the station this morning, was also already completely full. Because of that my plan was actually not to buy anithing..... but I failed.
Gets from Super Potato Osaka and a small record store at the same street
31.12 Nagoya - Akamon
I arrived very late evening at Nagoya and stayed one night in a hotel near to the station. On the next morning I did not rushed and stayed in bed until 8am because almost all stores would not open before 11am, due to the new year holidays. After leaving my heavy luggage at the station I went to Akamon to visit one of my personal favorite game stores in Japan. Nagoya's Super Potato and Meikoya! It was almost 10am when I left my hotel and took a subway to Kamimaezu.
It was still a little bit to early, when I arrived at Akamon. Super Potato was still closed but Meikoya and some othe stores on the street had already opened. I took some photos outside and went inside Meikoya.
Meikoya had as usual a lot of premium stuff for a premium price. There was this strange Super Famicom game "Gurume Sentai Barayarō". It literely translates as "gourmet-fucking-rose-dude". They had the original release for ¥50.490 (€420) and the re-release for ¥6.798 (€57). Also lot of rare boxed Superfamicom and Mega Drive games inside a big glas showcase. Some of them, like Demons Blazon or Vampire Killer I had as a european version back in the day. I found some Neo Geo AES games that I was looking for and asked if I could look inside. Both games Samurai Spirits (4) Amakusa's revenge and Last Blade were in very good condition and not for a bad prize. The shop assistant also told me that at the moment they would offer a special 10% "new years discount" on all games. Basically, thats tax free! Now they triggered my interest even more ^_^ But I only got Samsho4 and went to Super Potato.
Super Potato opened the store at 11am that day. Again, they had a lot of nice PSOne games in really good condition, where other stores should learn from. Unfortunately, I could not buy there as much as I wanted, because otherwise I would get a serious problems to carrying my luggage. While walking inside the store and checking games, I found a port of Last Blade for the PSX and it immediately triggered my memories about how beautiful this game is and that I could get it for a good price at the next store^^ ... I left Potato, walked to the next 7eleven to get more cash. Walked back to Meikoya and got Last Blade for a AES.
Gets from Meikoya and Super Potato in Osu Nagoya
Back to Tokyo
On the same afternoon I left Nagoya for Tokyo, my last station on this trip. All of my suitcases were already completely full, plus I had another full bag carrying with me all the time. I had a plan to go directly to my Hotel, where I could leave all my suitcases, even I would stay not the same night, but the night after. One of my best friends in Japan invided me to stay at new years eve at his house and have a traditional Japanese new year meal together. I also promised to make German Schnitzel for him ^^ His house is on the far western side of Tokyo. If I would have more space in my luggage, I would go and visit several Hard Off stores the next day. But due to this fact and also unusual opening times (caused by a new opening time regulations), I changed my plan again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . to Akihabara
01.01.2020 Tokyo - Akihabara
About 10am I arrved at Kanda, where I droped another bag at my hotel and went by foot to a very close Akihabara. It was way before 11am. Almost all stores were still closed. Only the huge Yodobashi was open and many people where arround it in order to get 福袋 "Fuku-Bokoro". It is kind of a new year tradition in Japan. It is a red bag or box with some electronics inside for a slightly lower than a usual retail price. Unfortunately for many people, the best packages were already sold out and you could buy them from chinese people sitting around Yodobashi and selling them. Of course for a slightly higher price. Being not amused by that, I went down the road to look around. Coming close to "The Akihabara Container", I saw some guys staying in a line in the front of the store. Another SNK exhibition! This time dedicated to 不知火 舞 (Shiranui Mai). I pulled out my camera and shot a picture, as the doors of the store opened and people went inside. "Nice timing!" I said :)
I did not planned to go to the container this time, nor that I knew about yet another SNK pop-up store. But this was a nice surprise for me. Inside the store they placed a huge Mai portrait directly in the middle, so you would definitely not have missed her. Also all walls were covered with that busty ninja girl. Similar as in Neo Geo Land Pop-up store, there were a lot of merchandise to buy. From postcards to t-shirts and hoodies, even portraits in frame. Everything a real Mai fans adore.
According to the store, 1974.01.01 was also Mai's birthday. (what a coincidence ...... wait, again?) I don't remember that this was mentioned somewhere else before. But if it is true, she will be just turned 45! OMG! Even older then me! Nice MILF thou.
Besides all these merchandise, they also had a set up of two NeoGeo Stick Pro, that was just been recently released by SNK. I was interested in its build quality, so I decided to test it out. Luckily one guy was already playing it. I asked if I can join him for a KOF match (using my poor japanese skills) and he beat a crap outta me^^ But it was a nice quality Stick^^ At the end having absolutely no space in my luggage, I could not afford to buy something here .......... I failed again.
Gets from Shiranui Mai Pop up store in Akihabara (+ 2 free gifts)
Looking for a box
By the time I arrived in Tokyo I new I would need to extend my luggage in form of a steady cardboard box, that would protect and survive the rough handling. It is possible to buy this kind of a boxes at hardware store in Japan. But these kind of stores are usualy not central and I didn't want to spend time to go after. Instead I tried to get it the old fashioned way.
It was a really nice weather at that day in Akihabara. With much more people than usual wandering around. To much for my taste. I remember that brazilian young woman with wide open blouse, that I passed by twice. She was staring at me on the second time, thinking I would look away. Probably she thought I was stalking her with my GoPro.^^ Sorry babe, but I am here for the games^^ Not all game stores were open thou. For example Retro Friends and BEEP were closed at that day.
Spending the first day of a new 2020 in Akihabara felt unusual and nostalgic at the same time. All kinds of memories about this place came up in my mind. From the very first visit in 2006 up to this point. As such, the place doesn't changed so much since then. Same buildings with large advertisements on them. That portrait of a young Takeshi Kitano sitting there for a quite long time now. Also the bridge at SEGA arcades with bypassing train over it (Sobu-Line) is still doing its job, bringing that typical flair that you can only get in Akihabara ...................... But then I remembered, that I still had to find a box.
What's in a box?
Depending on the amount of the luggage and stuff to carry, I usually divide everything in to three categories. Super fragile, very fragile and fragile^^. Super fragile stuff comes in to my small suitcase, that I would take with me as a hand baggage. Less fragile stuff goes in to a box and the rest goes in my big suitcase. Box and big suitcase are for check in.
That one week was a hell of a ride. Short but intence. Of course not the best season for a game hunting, due to overloaded train stations and crowded shops, but it was a lot of fun for me to be able to see all this holiday madness in real and spend a new year japanese way. My catch this time was not as big as last time, but I had a lot of surprised FOUNDs and spontaneous GETs. Hope to go to Japan again soon, preferentially with other dudes, who also digging like me in to a VG hunting. Cause who knows how the retro game availability would be in 10 years. If it continue going like that, prices will continue to rise and there will be less stores like Hard Off, but more like Potatoes. In this sense, さようなら till the next time!
If you interested in, how meticulously^^ my luggage was packed for the flight, please watch this video
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