Chair designed to play video-games

One of the first things that surprised me when I arrived to Japan was how much of the daily life inside houses happens laying down on the floor. Once you get used to it is nice because you can sit down wherever you want. The fact of not depending on chairs gives you a certain feeling of freedom.

But it can also be uncomfortable if you want to be a long time sitting down in the same position. In this case the best option is to use a zabuton 座布団, or much better: a zaisu 座椅子.

These are pictures of one of the most popular zaisu right now in Japan. It is used by gamers because it has an arm rest designed to hold the weight of your arms when you have your hands facing the screen with the game controller.

You can buy this chair here.

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Dobuita street at Yokosuka – Shenmue どぶ板通り

We went for a walk to Yokosuka, it is one of those places that don’t usually show up in travel guides. We are a bunch of nerds so we decided to find a good reason to go to this city hidden south of Yokohama where we have never been before.

My friend Antonio is a big fan of the video-game Shenmue, he keeps playing it on his old Dreamcast after more than 15 years. The hometown of the protagonist of Shenmue is Yokosuka and the majority of the action of the first part of the video-game happens in the virtual version of the Dobuita street. We had the perfect excuse to go and spend a day exploring Yokosuka.

The Dobuita street is located near a US naval base. The influence of United States military culture can be seen in every corner, the street is filled with shops and restaurants things in their menus like the Trump burger or Perry curry. In several places they accept US dollars for payments.


I took this pictured and found the same shop in the Shenmue videogame. If you are studying Japanese, can you find the main difference?

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Hideo Kojima’s Magnum Opus Becomes a Pachinko Game in Japa

Legendary video game developer Hideo Kojima has lost his rights to Metal Gear when he severed ties with publisher Konami. And while the world isn’t expecting new Metal Gear content to show up anytime soon, this new Metal Gear-inspired pachinko game has appeared. In this article, let’s take a closer look at the new Metal Gear pachinko and how it pays homage to one of the best video game titles of all time.

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First off, this isn’t the first time that Konami made a pachinko version of one of their successful titles. According to Japan Today, previous pachinko remakes by Konami include the horror game Silent Hill and action-adventure platformer Castlevania.

It’s not surprising considering that creating a spin-off game from a popular title isn’t only inherent to video games. Motion picture films have always spawned numerous game titles. Another famous soldier, Rambo, has lots of games tied to his name including Rambo: The Video Game, which is still getting updates even after several years from its release date as shown by Game Spot. Several TV series have also inspired game developers such as the reality show X-Factor which has games like slots and Slingo that feature the title. Expanding outside a single premise is a path frequently taken in the entertainment industry.

That said, Polygon stated that Konami employed the Fox Engine which was used for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain on the pachinko remake of MGS 3: Snake Eater. Suffice to say, the graphics have been upgraded to more crisp and smooth visuals.

The trailer showed that development, which played the memorable meeting scene of Naked Snake and The Boss. Other characters from the game will also appear, although it’s not definitely clear yet at this point how the actual gameplay will turn out to be.

When it comes to audio aspects, the music was taken from the iconic Metal Gear main theme. The original voice actors of the characters have also lent their voices once again to the game.

Games Radar added that there will also be mini-games inspired by significant chapters from the game. The fight with Ocelot will be included as well as Virtuous Missions featuring chibi versions of the characters.

Here’s a video of the different parts and mechanics of the pachinko games:

Although Hideo Kojima is no longer with Konami, the company said that it still has plans for the franchise aside from the pachinko remake. Fans may be split between amused and annoyed, but one thing’s for sure: given that pachinko machines are big in Japan to the point that they have pachinko parlors, the Metal Gear series will still get the love and attention it deserves, at least in its home country.

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Pokémon GO in Tokyo

Since almost two weeks ago I’ve been playing Pokémon GO here in Japan. The first days it was pretty crazy to see all the people (Literally almost everyone) was playing the game while walking on the streets of Tokyo. It was surrealistic but also really fun to go to parks and join the crowds hunting for new Pokémon. Last days I’m a little bit bored of it and I’ve also noticed that not so many people are playing it anymore.

I’ve found many rare Pokémon at Shinjuku Gyoen, even on the streets around the park crowds can be seen from morning to late at night gathering near Pokéstops and Gyms. If you are into fighting at gyms, the best areas are nearby the main Yamanote Line stations.

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Almost everyone looking at their smartphones.

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Yo capturé mi primer Pikachu también en Shinjuku Gyoen pero en una zona apartada donde ¡no había nadie!

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This was my first Pikachu. I captured it at Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the places with more Pikachu in Tokyo.

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And this was my first Bulbasaur

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This is a park at Meguro late at night with people playing Pokémon go

nagoyaThis is the Tsuruma park at Nagoya

This is a video I took at Shinjuku Gyoen park where you can appreciate the level at which everyone is focused on their Pokémon hunting instead of the beauty of the nature around them 🙂

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Horse racing machine

I love Japanese game-centers, when I find one I always go inside to explore. The horse racing simulation machines are the most surrealistic, I’ve already talked about the Konami machine where the players sit down in front of a big screen to place their bets.

In this one I recorded in a video at Ikebukuro, the players sit down surrounding a table where little horse figurines circle around.

It is a pity that lately many game-centers in Tokyo are starting to close down.

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Is still Japan the king of video games?

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim has recently been ranked by Forbes magazine as the richest person in the world. In Japan the richest person is Hiroshi Yamauchi, the ex-president of Nintendo, who transformed a small company dedicated to the hanafuda (traditional Japanese card game) card-making business into the biggest video game empire in the world.

At the end of the 80′s and during the 90′s Japanese companies like Sega, Nintendo, Capcom or Sony conquered the planet with their video games reaching a market share of more than 50% of the global market. Japan was the factory of dreams of millions of children around the world. According to a poll carried out in 1995 among children of more than 100 countries, Mario was the most recognized fiction character in the world, even more than Mickey Mouse.

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Nowadays Japan is still a video game giant but has lost a lot of the strength that once had. Japanese video game companies have gone from controlling 50% of the global market to just controlling the 20%. The two main causes of this change are the arrival of powerful mobile devices developed by American and European companies, like for example the iPhone, able to run video games of similar or even better quality than that of games developed exclusively for portable gaming machines like the PSP or the Nintendo DSi; and on the other hand the success of Microsoft Xbox and its successor, the Xbox 360, becoming the first two successful video game consoles developed outside of Japan.

The Japanese home market is really important for the video game industry. In terms of sales Japan is usually considered as a “continent” along with United States and Europe. In 1993 the consumption of video games in Japan was so high that with a third of the population of United States more games were sold in Japan than in United States. In 2010 Japan is still a big consumer, mostly of turn-based RPGs like Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, but in United States eight times more video games are sold, what supposes a radical change from the outlook of a decade ago. Satoru Iwata, the current president of Nintendo, announced in a press conference that the lifestyle of Japanese people is more and more “occupied” and that the people has less and less time to play. Satoru Iwata said that Nintendo is taking measures to create entertainment that can adapt to these new needs of the market but at the same time innovate in new ways like they did with the Wii. In the digital world where borders between television, computer, music player and cellphone are more and more diffuse, it is more and more easy and cheap to compete globally with software products, the rules are changing and Japanese software and hardware developers are having a hard time keeping their status as kings of the video games.

During the year 2009 the video game industry was not only in crisis in Japan, but all over the world. What will happen in 2010? Will the big Japanese companies regain market share with the arrival of the eight generation of video game consoles or they will keep on loosing market against the Android and the iPhone?

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Giant Space Invaders Attacking Tokyo

Several years ago I came across several small Space Invaders in the streets of Tokyo. It seems that this kind of street art is growing and now the Invaders are becoming larger. They are easier to find! Have you seen any around?

In this Instagram account you can see Space Invaders art around the whole world.

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space invaders street art

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This one was taken by my friend @lluisgerard

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Astroboy with the same style as the Invaders.

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This one doesn’t have the same style as the Invaders but I liked it 😉

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