Super Potato

I've been lucky in my life to have travelled a decent amount. Primarily for work, but have always made the effort to bring my wife along and spend quality time in weird/new places.

I've been really lucky to have been acquainted with Asia. Mostly Singapore and Tokyo. And I'll talk about some other experiences in other posts. But I stumbled across a photo I had taken from an arcade in Tokyo a few years ago. I think it was circa 2017, but it could be a year earlier or a few years hence. As I said, I've been lucky to travel a good bit in my life.

One place I was keen to visit was Super Potato. A bizarrely named retro arcade and game shop. It's best known for having pristine consoles and games from years past. I likely would never buy anything there because I don't need to clog my house up with hardware, especially in an era when emulation is so good (and these days FPGA sorts out most of my needs retro-wise). Nor do I need Japanese specific editions of hardware. But seeing is believing, and all that.

Super Potato

One oddity with the store is getting there in the first place. The image above shows a very obvious sign, but if you don't speak Japanese you might not be sure if that's actually Super Potato or not. And it's not on the ground floor. Central Tokyo has a lot of narrow, but tall buildings, where each floor has a unique business. So going in an elevator to get to your destination is not uncommon. But not being signposted effectively can prove difficult for the discerning tourist like me. Even worse, the street I took to get to the shop was littered with mad shops, some of them selling retro hardware. I thought I had stumbled into it, and been disappointed by Super Potato several times before having an a-ha! moment.

Electric town

Once inside, you're greeted with the sights and sounds that you've likely seen on a billion travelogs, YouTube videos or online photos posted by fellow nerds. Tilted back CRT displays to play Street Fighter II Turbo or similar in a low-ceiling, reasonably dimly lit room. At the time I was there, featuring a lifesized Solid Snake, too.

But going up the floors revealed the other side of the shop. A store, bustling with old school consoles and games, perfectly preserved in plastic wrapping. Prices were not cheap, but the quality and condition of everything were amazing. And comparatively better priced than local alternatives in Europe, probably due to demand, supply and turnover.

Games, games, games

What's truly interesting, though, is that it wasn't all that. It was amazing to see, a splendour and a joy to be there. Don't get me wrong. But there were better shops, with better value, and more fun to be had. Especially in the general Akihabara district. I spent €0 in Super Potato. But I did wind up getting some old PlayStation and Sega merch elsewhere.

I'm not concluding this with a never meet your heroes bit. But that area, although I've not visited in years, has had plenty of gems worth visiting. Super Potato is one of them. But it's just one of them. It's not the be-all, end-all. And right now, Tokyo is seeing a huge shift. Not least in Electric Town. Many of the arcades, shops and niche boutiques are shutting down to make way for food, maid cafés and bars to cater to tourists. Because people like me visit a niche shop like Super Potato and spend €0.

It reminds me to visit The Rage in Dublin soon, and give them some money.