Video Game Paradise: Exploring The Odds And Ends Of Taito Station | CoolJapan

It's Friday night in Shinjuku, and there's a general sense of good cheer in the air. Girls giggle and lean on their friends and people stand in the streets huddled in tight circles to chat. Come late evening, you can find salarymen, who have become very publicly drunk, slouched in the corners of buildings everywhere.

You get the sense that with the arrival of the weekend, the spell of social introversion that is characteristic to Japan is broken. People loosen up, they get to be themselves. There is no greater evidence of this notion than in Shinjuku's Taito Station.

Taito Station in Japan

At the entrance, there is a bright red facade with the logo of the 8-bit alien from Space Invaders. 

The wonders of Taito Station

This eight-floor building opens up into an atrium where you can hear the rapid smack of buttons and laughter as people play Bishi Bashi, a game of manic button presses that seems designed solely to provoke iridescent joy and extroversion. Elsewhere, brightly lit claw machines call loudly with their own little, happy chimes and, occasionally, someone wins and makes off with one of the obnoxiously cute toys that sit within, encased behind glass.

Taito Station arcade

An enclosed capsule that simulates the cockpit of a giant mecha robot

It is a blaring, dazzling novelty of a building — eight floors (two basements!) of arcade games and various other types of electronic entertainment. Just like pretty much everything in Shinjuku, it has the same kind of high tech TV/AV sensorial overload that's characteristic of the district. On every floor, you'll find enough to keep yourself or your kids occupied — if you have any. There are rhythm games, Taiko drums, virtual trains and robots that you can pilot — each one of them calling out with its own overt clarion call of sound.

Taito Station game booth

A man pilots a virtual Shinkansen. Not the most engaging video game, but worth a look.

Not all of it, of course, is just for kids. On the sixth floor of Taito Station, there are rows of booths of photo machines. And more often than not, you’ll find adults, mostly women, coming in from the office, cramming themselves into these booths to take pictures adorned with loud, cartoonish decals. You can do the same, and the photos make great keepsakes. After all, it's reminiscent of Neoprint booths of the late '90s, and stepping into one of these things can fill one with nostalgia.

Taito Station photo booths

Two women in a selfie booth

It is fun, regardless, to just simply watch others come out laughing and having a good time. There are little touches here and there which remind you of the consideration involved in Japanese culture. For example, you can see if these booths are occupied from their transparent edges. It's a simple solution that's quintessentially Japanese; there's no "mum barging in your room" type of awkwardness here — it's been pre-empted and accounted for.

Taito Station certainly has much that is novel to observe and explore, and if you find yourself in Shinjuku, it certainly is worth a visit.

Taito Station has various outlets all across Tokyo. The outlet mentioned here can be found in Shinjuku Station's South Entrance.

Andrew Yuen writes stories on a variety of topics such as theatre, travel and mental health. He has an interest in examining culture, art and society. In addition, he writes short stories and enjoys reading in his free time.
Read more of Andrew's stories here