In Tokyo, a Secret Nintendo-Themed Cafe Opens to the Public

A singular place with a singular focus

A figurine representing a Japanese multinational's famous video game character Mario Bros is on display during the Madrid Games Week 2015 in Madrid on October 2, 2015.

Never underestimate the staying power of a determined plumber. It’s been decades since the first Super Mario Bros. game reached consoles, and the character’s place in the pop culture firmament has been assured. Whether it’s takeovers of Times Square or video games selling for absurd amounts of money, Mario and company have made their mark on the world at large — up to and including the realm of smartwatches. It’s a bold reminder that Nintendo’s influence on the world has been substantial, and shows no signs of ebbing away.

The latest indication of this comes from Tokyo, where a once-private space dedicated to all things Nintendo has recently opened to the public. At The New York Times, Hikari Hida and Tiffany May told the story of Toru Hashimoto, who worked for Nintendo in the 1980s and 1990s and kept a host of memorabilia from that era of gaming. Eventually, he turned this into a secret cafe which opened in 2015, one that his friends and colleagues had easy access to and others had to puzzle out a series of clues to locate.

Due to the pandemic creating a sense of economic uncertainty, Hashimoto has made the cafe more accessible to the public, via a reservation system. And the result is a space that resonates with many gaming enthusiasts.

“I am shouldering debt, and we are barely getting by, treading water,” Hashimoto told the Times. His cafe, 84, costs $75 for a 90-minute stay, and holds all of five tables. Hida and May described the space as “a loving tribute to the video game world.” The article describes 84 as a space that abounds with deep-cut video game references — and a clientele that includes artists and gaming professionals. It’s not hard to see its appeal — and one hopes it’ll persevere through a difficult time, with better days to come.

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