Japanese Arcade Game Centers, called “Gen-Sen” in Japanese. They are world renowned for their fun, loud and exciting atmosphere. They are a mix of pinball, arcade and high tech digital and 3D games. From the days of Atami and various game machines, Japanese game makers have taken the world by storm. They are responsible for coming up with games like PacMan, Donkey Kong, and many others that can catch adults and children’s attention.
Usually situated close to train stations in Tokyo, or Pachinko parlors outside of Tokyo. Game Centers are a cheap and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon with the kids, or trying to break your highest score on your favorite game. They can be small or they can be massive multi-story building complexes that have bowling, movies, games, pachinko and food courts all in one. Akihabara is the the gaming capital of Japan and it is filled with Game Centers, but there are Arcades and Game Centers locatedall over the city of Tokyo and surrounding areas.
We have listed some of the most popular game centers in Tokyo and also the major companies. Most games cost about ¥100 to ¥200 per play and some games allow you to win prizes like toys, dolls, model cars or aircraft, and even a PlayStation.
There are gun and shooting games, card based games, UFO and Grab games where you maneuver a joystick to catch an item. There are also Purika games, where you can take a photo of you and your friends and have it edited. There are also horse racing games, chance games like traditional pokies or slots, but not really gambling as that is prohibited (but very similar). Game Centers are very loud, and some of the older ones outside of Tokyo might even still allow smoking, but in Tokyo that has almost disappeared as of mid 2019.
Sega Akihabara 1st (More Sega Game Centers in Tokyo Area)
Sega Akihabara 1st is the main SEGA game center or Sega Gen-Sen in Japan, it’s is where all the professional gamers want to be seen and it has the newest, latest, but also the greatest games from the past. It is extremely loud and bright inside, so for young kids maybe the first floor and basements are enough and you will also most likely to be surrounded by lots of young Japanese teenagers playing games.
Location: Sotokanda 1-10-9, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Train Access: Akihabara Station, 1 min walk Google Maps
Taito HEY (Hirose Entertainment Yard) (More Taito Game Centers in Tokyo Area)
Taito HEY or Hirose Entertainment Yard, or just HEY as the locals call it. This is also one of the oldest and most well known game centers in Japan. It has all the top games as well as the classics, covering 4 floors. They have free WiFi and accept all major credit cards for token payments. Expect it to be loud and you need a couple of hours to really explore everything. Famous for arcade, UFO, photo sticker booths and ultra modern super realistic 3D games. A must stop for any avid gamer.
Location: 1-10-5 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Train Access: Akihabara Station, 2 min walk Google Maps
Round 1 – Ikebukuro (More Round 1 Game Centers in Tokyo Area)
Round 1 is a huge company with Game Centers all over Japan, it is well known for its logo of a bowling ball, anywhere in Japan you see a big bowling ball sign you can rest assured there is a Round 1 Gaming Center. They have bowling (hence the logo), baseball, basketball and other sports but they also have a huge selection of games for all types of gamers out there. The Ikebukuro Round 1 is famous for it’s Bemani games like Beat Mania and Dance Dance Revolution from Konami, basically music and dancing/drumming games and it boasts one of the best collections of Bemani games in Japan. Ikebukro has long been called the “Gateway to Saitama” people who live outside of Tokyo in Saitama come to Ikebukuro to get a taste of Tokyo life as it’s the closest major train station for most people living there.
Location: 1-14-1 Ikebukuro Squre Higashi Ikebukuro Toshima-ku, Tokyo Train Access: Ikebukuro Station, 4 min walk Google Maps
Akihabara Gachapon Hall is THE Gachapon place in Akihabara. Gachapon is the game of winning a toy in a small plastic ball, popular all over the world but especially popular for kids and tourists in Japan. It is not difficult and you can easily win one of everything in this store. Its an old building and has an old vibe to it.
Location: 3-15-5 Sotokanda, Chiyoda Tokyo Train Access:
Suehiro-cho Station, 2 min walk, Yushima Station, 7 min walk Google Maps
D.D.R is a car racing simulator arcade in Akihabara, it is usually booked out so be sure to check in advance or come early.
Location: 3-11-2 Sotokanda | 5F Rock Bldg., Chiyoda, Tokyo. Train Access:
Suehirocho Station, 4 min walk, Akihabara Station, 6 min walk, Yushima Station, 9 min walk Google Maps
Super Potato Akihabara is a retro gamers heaven. It has a a really old style and feel to it and has all the famous 1980’s and 1990’s games. It is actually more of a museum of retro games that you are allowed to play, giving you a glimpse into your parents teenage years, or rekindling your first high-school date. Classic Super Mario and Golden Eye are favorites.
Location: 3F-5F Kitabayashi Building, 1-11-2, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Train Access: Akihabara Station, 4 min walk, Suehirocho Station, 5 min walk Google Maps
Tokyo Joypolis, or Joypolis Odiba as it is known to locals is a mix of arcade centers, theme park and digital disneyland. There is an entrance fee to get in and you have to pay for each game but it is most certainly worth it. The games are more virtual reality ‘rides’ than traditional games and it feels more like a theme park with shooting games, zombie games and the like, but inside a big building complex that is bright and loud. It is located in Odaiba, which is a man made island in Tokyo bay. It is basically built for shopping and entertainment and Joypolis is one of its major attractions. This is a very kid friendly environment but it can be very loud and a bit scary for under 5 year olds.
Location: 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Train Access: Odaiba Kaihin Kouen Station, 2 min walk, Tokyo Teleport Station, 5 min walk Google Maps
Shimbashi is an area mostly associated with standing bars, yakkitori restaurants and drunk salary men. It’s not only for tired office workers who just want to get off and drink beer though, close to the station is a relatively new building complex called New Shimbashi Building. Around and inside you will find a number of Game Centers, some full of salary men who have finished and want some competition before going home, but also its popular with young people and high school students. In the basement of the building you will find long corridors with different types of Game Centers, from old to new.
Location: 2-16-1, Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo Train Access: Shinbashi Station, 2 min walk Google Maps
Tokyo Leisureland is one of the most authentic Japanese game centers you can visit, its is drab and a bit run down during day time, so to get the most out of this experience you need to go after dark to enjoy the neon lights. It has various floors of fun, with the first floor being grab and UFO games, and the other floors being a mix of older more well known arcade games, and the latest and greatest. The area has a lot of adult video and sex related shops so it’s best to leave the kids at home for this one, and enjoy it after a few drinks with friends. This is where you can get some fantastic Instagram shots for your holidays if your interested in some of the more strange and adult focused games. There is also a Tokyo Leisureland Second Shop in Akihabara, on the 6th and 7th floor, with virtual reality arcade games.
Location: 1-14-1 Ikebukuro Squre Higashi Ikebukuro Toshima-ku, Tokyo Train Access: Akihabara Station, 4 min walk Google Maps
Some call it the best arcade game center in the world, and it is a throwback to the 1970’s. Try Amusement Tower has something for every gamer in a very unique atmosphere. There are floors of various styles of fun games that will keep everyone amused. There is also a place to eat and drink beer if that is more your style. A great area for photos as many of the games, especially the crane and toy games are rather old. Great collection of beat mania and dancing style Konami games, and there will almost always be an expert there that you can watch and admire.
Location: 4-4-7 MT Building Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Train Access: Suehirocho Station, 2 min walk, Akihabara Station, 6 min walk Google Maps