“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll”
– Shigeru Miyamoto
In Australia, much like the rest of the world, game arcade culture is slowly disappearing, with more and more arcades closing each year. However the opposite can be said for arcades in Japan. To date there are 4,650 licensed game arcades in Japan (Japan National Police Agency, 2017), with the majority based in Tokyo.
I’ve always LOVED game arcades, so you can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled into one with my tour group late last year. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, isles and isles of prize, crane & UFO catchers covered every inch of floor space.
Now I bet your thinking, is that it? Is that all you wanted to share? What makes Japanese arcades so cool compared to every other arcade I’ve been in?
Well [dramatic pause] the thing is, what makes Japanese game arcades so awesome is that they’re more than one level (i’ll let that sink in for a moment).
Thats right! A typical game arcade in Japan comprises of 5 levels! Each game (on every level) roughly sets you back 100-200 yen; but luckily each level is equipped with a coin-swap machine i.e. cash for coins #thereisagod. I’ve given you a little run down on the levels below , however it will vary arcade to arcade – mainly because of the building’s size.
Level 1: Prize, crane & UFO catcher games.
Perfect for a date or if you just want to chill out with some mates! Level 1 is a great time/money waster. Level 1 always leaves your pockets empty so I suggest starting from the top & working your way down if you want to try out some of the more hardcore games. That being said don’t be afraid to spend money on this level (especially if you are on a date!) as the prizes are totally worth it!
level 1 tip: If you’re a girl (sorry for being sexist but this doesn’t work as well if you’re a guy) go up to the guy working in the arcade & tell him that the game is too hard – he makes it easier for you! I’M BEING SERIOUS HERE! I am a total noob (sad excuse for a gamer) who desperately wanted a Chopper-kun (One Piece character) plush toy. I went over to the arcade worker and sweetly asked if he could help me win the toy… AND HE DID! He opened the glass door right up and moved Chopper-kun slightly to the right. I WON HIM!!!!!! I had never been sooooo happy in my life!
Anyway! let’s move to the next level!
Level 2 & 3: Gamer Heaven
For hardcore gamers these 2 levels are literally heaven. on Level 2 you’ll find your medal games or ‘token games’. Their kind of like casino machines accept games are played for tokens. On level 3 you will find video games, fighting games, card and puzzle games. I didn’t spend any time playing games on these levels, mainly because well I’m not a massive gamer and level 4 looked way too tempting!
This is one of my favourite levels because it’s all about simulation. Car racing, bike racing, shooting, robot battle pods, music, rhythm & dance games – this level has it all! Level 4 is probably where I spent most of my time – the dance machines are unreal! Coincidently a lot of Japanese students spend their time here as well – it’s literally a sea of school uniforms on this level!
Level 4 tip: Play the piano or drum game (as seen in image below), both are intense but so much fun!
Finally my favourite level! Level 5 is home to ‘Purikura’ machines or as I like to call them hundreds of photo booth’s that make you look super Kawaii (cute)! What I love about Puikura machines is that it isn’t your stock standard self-portrait – you can add cute icons and draw on images; they also come out in sticker form so you can stick that photo of you and your bestie where ever you like!
I know that can be a lot of awesomeness to take in so let’s have ourselves a little recap! In Japan, your typical arcade will consist of 5 different levels, with each level having its own theme; Lvl1: Prize, crane & UFO catcher games, lvl2: Token games, lvl3: Fighting & card games, lvl4: Simulation games (racing, music, dance etc) and lvl5: Puikura machines (photo booths). Each game will roughly cost around 100-200 yen (so make sure you have spare change handy!). Arcades are pretty to spot as they are the most vibrant and colourful buildings in Japan’s cities.
So remember, next time you’re in Japan check out a game arcade!
” powdered green tea leaves, dissolved in hot water to make tea or used as a flavouring.”
Matcha tea is the Japanese equivalent of a super food! It is a dark green powder that is typically dissolved in hot water to make tea. Despite its not so sweet flavour, matcha is a popular ingredient in many Japanese sweets such a mochi (rice) cakes and ice cream. Luckily for me I love the stuff, which is why I stocked up in Japan because matcha is really expensive in Australia! (sigh).
What makes matcha a super food is all the secret goodies hiding in it! It is packed with vitamins and antioxidants; vitamin C, zinc and magnesium, just to name a few! Matcha also has a high caffeine content which makes it the perfect coffee alternative.
Now don’t get me wrong I love a good cup of coffee, I am a 3 cups a day kind of girl. What I don’t love about coffee is what it does to my energy levels . Caffeine in coffee hits you really quickly and I always get a massive surge of energy followed by no energy at all. Matcha gradually releases caffeine, giving you a nice slow and even release of energy instead of burning it out all at once.
Another great side effect of matcha is that it is really good for your skin. Whenever I drink coffee my acne swells up and my face and back break out. When I drink matcha I find the opposite happens. I still get acne, but the break outs are smaller and less aggressive. I’ve also read that women use it as a face mask, though I am yet to try this (I’ll keep you posted!).
Now that I have provided you with all my matcha knowledge go out and try some! It is a bit expensive but it’s totally worth it. Let me know what you think of it (taste and all) in the comments below.