Once a paradise for nonstop video gaming in an extremely unique setting where time seems to have stood still, Anata No Warehouse in Kawasaki has forever shut its doors to visitors. But what was the famous Japanese arcade hall near Tokyo like? And why did Anata No Warehouse shut down? Find out in this article.
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What was Anata no Warehouse?
Back in 2009, former set designer Taishiro Hoshino created Anata no Warehouse (meaning “Your Warehouse”) from the remains of the actual location of Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong (九龍城寨).
That city was a lawless place, a city only by virtue of it being left to its own devices, overlooked by police and run by underground forces. It was infamous for its grimy streets, terribly crowded boxed apartments and unspoken activities going on.
You’d think such a desolate, dystopian microcosm would be found at the outer fringes of one of the most populous islands of the world, but the Walled City was actualyl located in the middle of the island state.
Ultimately, the lawless city within a city was completely demolished in 1993 by the British. No wonder, as it was run by drug lords, criminals and shady unlicensed practitioners and therefore had been a sore spot for a long time.
So when Hoshino found a way to salvage some of the debris of the ruins, he went all out. He even had trash shipped in so his team could study it as opposed to just looking at old photos and video footage.
More than that, Hoshino collected even more vintage items and distressed them to create a fully immersive experience and really deck out the strange interior of the arcade, creating a very unique experience indeed.
Everything both within and without the Japanese arcade was made to look dilapidated, rusty and downright gross. Hoshino was very specific about the details. Fake house facades, complete with dying potted plants, washed laundry and windows with lounging prostitutes were set up.
Why has Anata no Warehouse closed down?
As far as I know, there was no official statement as to the exact reason for the closure of the Kawasaki Warehouse arcade.
The official wording was “various reasons”, which is vague at best and it was given by a sign at the arcade’s entrance. A silent announcement only before Anata no Warehouse closed for good on 17 November 2019.
The fact is that arcades have been struggling over the past years and a certain virus certainly isn’t helping. On the one hand, the trend of constantly new games being put out and replaced doesn’t help stabilise the business and many old arcade games aren’t played anymore.
There’s new rumours going around that Sega is now trying to turn old machines into streaming-gaming machines when they are not used. We’ll see.
Gambling and gaming halls in Japan
Yes, gambling is illegal in Japan with a few exceptions like that of horse, powerboat, bicycle and motorcycle race betting.
That being said, pachinko slots aren’t legally considered part of gambling, which is why they have sprung up all over the country and have been in business for so long.
Which maybe doesn’t make it too surprising when you hear that around 2.3 million Japanese are believed to be addicted to gambling. Any time of the day, you can see business men and antsy teenagers alike completely hooked in their neon-lit caves of blinking lights and deafeningly loud game halls.
Anata no Warehouse, however was different. It was so much quieter and while many pachinko slots in Japan are crazy intense in their lighting, here, everything is dimly lit.
And you didn’t just stumble upon it and got lured in by its blinking lights and sounds. You had to seek it out.
Inside, it wasn’t just dark but also eerily quiet. The closer you go to the extremely colourful and flashy game machines and arcades upstairs, you were almost in a trance. It felt as it you were completely removed from the outside world and landed in a small microcosm void of time and space.
What could you play at Anata no Warehouse?
Each floor of Kawasaki Warehouse was decorated differently and had a different theme to it. From the ground floor you could enter through two doors.
The first entrance came from the street, which lead you into corridors that were lit in dark reds, lined by windows in which shadows of women could be discerned. A peek into the brothel district of the Walled City?
The other entrance was straight out of a futuristic video game. Fog wavered above a lime green pool with round stepping stones leading away from the geometrically shaped ying yang door.
From there, you are spit out into the red corridors. The doors opened and closed automatically.
On floor one and two, you could experience two layers of the formerly 14-storey high Kowloon Walled city while enjoying retro arcade games. In line with the retro feel, you could play car racing, shooter games, table hockey and get your groove on at the dance machines.
In the back and continuing onto the next floor, you could get lost trying your hand at UFO catchers with the usual plushies, anime figurines as well as XXL sized food items as prices.
Going up to the third floor, you were able to play games in a more futuristic looking setting and through steamed-over windows. This was the true gambling area, where you could also play horse-racing tracks and soccer-based betting.
For darts, the fourth floor was perfect and it had a more European feel. At the entrance of the escalator, you saw a Trevi fountain inspired creation and at the end of the room as well as fireplaces and vintage reading lamps.
The fifth floor, called Internet Warehouse, was reserved for members only, who could enjoy a variety of drinks, cosy seating areas in Alice in Wonderland style red interiors as well as a library of manga.
Is getting out to Kawasaki Warehouse still worth it?
Personally, I wouldn’t go out of the way to see it. If you are on your way to see Yokohama for the day, you could stop here, especially if you have the Japanese Railpass* anyway.
But you can’t go in, and the outside of Anata no Warehouse wasn’t anything special though it did stand out from the polished modern facades around it. It looked very out of place. I am not sure if they have torn it down or changed it in any way.
How to Reach Anata no Warehouse
If you did want to check it out as a day trip from Tokyo, you can take the train from Tokyo’s Shimbashi station to Kawasaki in the direction of Haneda Airport. A ride takes under 20 minutes. With the JR lines coming at fast intervals, there is always a train taking you down to Kawasaki.
Next, exit the train station to the East and follow the road southwards. Then, you will reach Kawasaki Warehouse within five minutes.
- Address: 3-7 Nisshincho, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture 210-0024
What else is there to see in Kawasaki?
Its Koreatown, even though mentioned in guidebooks, is a letdown. Two places that are quite nice are Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple and the busy shopping street Nakamise-dori Street. But that’s about it.
Where to stay in Kawasaki
Maybe you want to have a look around Kawasaki for more than a quick visit and stay here as it’s much less visited and crowded than Tokyo and you can explore other harbour towns in the area.
It is conveniently located between Yokohama and Tokyo and there are a few nice hotels to choose from. Should you have taken a liking to the wonderful onsen experience that Japan provides, then check into the Hotel Dormy Inn Kawasaki with its natural hot spring.
The 3-star hotel is very close to the main train station and thus also near the former Anata no Warehouse. Your rooms come equipped with their own bath, working desk, TV and free WiFi and you can take advantage of their spa. Reserve your room here.*
Another pleasant stay in Kawasaki near the train station is Hotel APA Hotel TKP Keikyu Kawasaki Ekimae. It is also a 3-star hotel and offers both 24-hour reception and access to an onsite restaurant.
Rooms come with their own bath including a tub, a writing desk and flat-screen TV. Check availability here.* You can always cancel your reservation up until a few days in advance.
Would you have wanted to visit Anata no Warehouse?
More Japan tips
Ryan Biddulph says
I’d love to visit in Annemarie! Looks like a fun time as I dig arcade games. Although true to Japan, the place has a different feel. As my wife calls the country, “Wonderfully Weird” LOL. Thanks for the rocking share.
Annemarie Strehl says
Hi Ryan, then you should totally visit! You can play 24/7. And yes, the country truly is wonderfully weird. Nice wording.^^
You have convinced me!
I will go next September!
Annemarie Strehl says
Hi Flor, great to hear it! I hope you’ll have lots of fun. September must be a great time to visit Japan because of the red maple trees everywhere! <3
Is it still free and cost nothing till to-date in order to visit Anata No Warehouse? The wall arts seems interesting and fascinating!
I might want to plan a visit there, before they are being ‘demolished’ / closed in Nov 2019, IF I am able to find the bus route there by hopping using Toei buses since I have a monthly bus pass :)
Let me know please before. Thanks!
Hi Kelly, yes, it should still be free. However, that being said, I just found out that it will get shut down on November 17, 2019. So if you’re in Tokyo in the next 2 weeks, definitely go while you still can.
Noted with Thanks, AnneMarie.