Do you love video games? Are you curious to see a different side of Japan – and maybe Hong Kong as well? Just a short train ride from Tokyo’s centre, you will find Anata No Warehouse, also known as Kawasaki Warehouse. This giant arcade building is unlike any other in the world. And here’s why you need to visit – even if you are not really into slot, retro or arcade games.
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What is Anata no Warehouse?
Back in 2009, former set designer Taishiro Hoshino created Anata no Warehouse (meaning “Your Warehouse”) recreated the by then already fabled Kowloon Walled City. When it was still standing, you were a fool to enter the infamous Kowloon Walled City (九龍城寨) in Hong Kong. A grimy, run down area in the middle of the island state, 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.
So when Hoshino decided on the theme, he went all in. He even had trash shipped in from Hong Kong so his team could study it as opposed to just looking at old photos and video footage. More than that, Hoshino collected vintage items and distressed them even further to create a fully immersive experience.
Everything both within and without was made to look dilapidated, rusty and downright gross to the smallest detail. Fake house facades, complete with dying potted plants, washed laundry and windows with lounging prostitutes were set up. If you ever wanted to walk within a video game while playing a video game, this is the place to be!
Gambling and Game Halls in Japan
If you didn’t know, gambling is illegal in Japan with a few exceptions like that of horse, powerboat, bicycle and motorcycle race betting. Pachinko slots aren’t legally considered part of gambling, which is why they have sprung up all over the country. Ironically, around 2.3 million Japanese are believed to be addicted to gambling. Any time of the day, they lure burned out business men and antsy teenagers alike into their neon-lit and deafeningly loud game halls.
Anata no Warehouse, however is different. You don’t just randomly pass by. You seek it out. Inside, it is quiet, almost eerily so. But the closer you go to the extremely colourful and flashy game machines and arcades, it almost becomes a lure. Which one speaks to you most? Wrapped in darkness, it feels isolating. Just you in your own little world. It is utterly fascinating!
What Can You Play at Anata no Warehouse?
Each floor of Kawasaki Warehouse is decorated differently, with the back entrance being super futuristic and feeling out of this world. Enter through a ying yang door into a room covered with steaming green water and into a red corridor. The main entrance will lead you into a red ante chamber, which opens automatically and will spit you out right in the grimy streets of Kowloon Walled City.
On floor one and two, you can experience two layers of the formerly 14 storey high Kowloon Walled city while enjoying retro arcade games. In line with the retro feel, you can 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, get lost trying your hand at UFO catchers with the usual plushies, anime figurines as well as XXL sized food items.
Going up to the third floor, you can play medal games in a more futuristic looking setting and steamed over looking windows. This is the true gambling area, where you can also play horse-racing tracks and soccer-based betting.
For darts, hit up the fourth floor, which has a more European feel. At the entrance of the escalator, you can see a Trevi fountain inspired creation and at the end of the room, feel free to chill by fireplaces and vintage reading lamps. The fifth floor, called Internet Warehouse, is reserved for members only, who can enjoy a variety of drinks, cosy seating areas in Alice in Wonderland style red interiors as well as a library of manga.
How to Reach Anata no Warehouse
From Tokyo, take the train from Shimbashi to Kawasaki (in the direction of Haneda Airport). It takes under 20 minutes. Exit the train station to the East and follow the road southwards, you will reach Kawasaki Warehouse within five minutes. You cannot possibly miss it with its purposefully run down look next to modern apartment buildings.
Address: 3-7 Nisshincho, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture 210-0024
Opening times: Mon-Fri 9AM–11:45PM; Sat-Sun 7AM–11:45PM (4th floor open 24/7)
Age requirement: 18+
Entrance fee: free
Where to Stay for Your Visit to Kawasaki Warehouse
Unless you want to basically move into the arcade, you can easily plan an afternoon or morning at Anata no Warehouse. With the JR lines coming at fast intervals, there is always a train taking you down to Kawasaki.
However, if you do want to stay in Kawasaki – as it is conveniently located between Yokohama and Tokyo – there are a few nice hotels to choose from. For a low budget, the Hotel & Hostel On The Marks Tokyo Kawasaki is a great deal and loved for its live music events five times a month. Its onsite restaurant serves eight types of craft beers, smoked food and meat dishes.
Business travellers will enjoy the Richmond Hotel Premier Musashikosugi with its working desks, coin laundry and room massages. Plus, there are special amenities for female guests and children are available at the front desk.
If you don’t want to leave Tokyo but stay close to the main train stations for day trips, try the Ryokan Katsutaro for a more traditional experience. A regular hotel experience in style and for middle range budgets can be had at HOTEL UNIZO Tokyo Ginza-itchome. It is right next to Ueno station and also serves Western breakfast.
Is getting out to Kawasaki Warehouse only worth it?
If you are into arcade games and gambling, this will totally be your jam! For steampunk lovers and those wanting to “travel” to a city that is extinct, this is also absolutely worth it. (And those studying prop design, eat your hearts out and learn!) Kawasaki itself isn’t a very day trip worthy city.
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.
So unless you really love to feel like you are in gaming heaven or on a film set (or love photography), then you can happily skip it. It would be possible to make a stopover here on your way to Yokohama if that’s where you are planning on going anyway.
Tell me: Would you want to visit Anata no Warehouse? And why?
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