We Embarked On A Retro Gaming Odyssey Across Japan
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

Whenever I've talked to people about retro game hunting in Japan, the conversation has always turned to how much better everything was in decades gone by (before the scalpers moved in and raided all the best stuff and the retro boom caused everything else to skyrocket in price). So I didn't really know what to expect before visiting the country earlier this year.

I couldn't help but feel like I had missed the boat and was about to encounter rows and rows of empty shelves (and exorbitant price tags with far too many zeros to count). But, like many, I'd always dreamed of coming to Japan and part of that dream was checking out its amazing game stores. So, despite my reservations, I decided to embark on an epic game hunt across 3 cities (Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka) and 17 stores, to see what I could find. Below I've put together a complete list of all of the stores I ended up visiting on my trip, along with some thoughts on each. Hopefully, this will prove useful if you ever decide to go to Japan in the future, or will bring back some happy memories for those of you who have already been:


Super Potato

Address: Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 1 Chome−11−2 3階~5階 北林ビル

To kick things off, I headed to the neighbourhood of Akihabara, in Tokyo, which is a part of the city that is famously nicknamed the "Electric Town" because of its high concentration of electronic stores. It is a place that is popular with tourists and locals alike for its large collection of anime and gaming shops and notably contains the flagship store of perhaps the most famous retro gaming chain of them all: Super Potato.

Super Potato Akihabara
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

Super Potato has six locations in total across Japan, with the Akihabara branch being one of two stores that can be found in Tokyo (the other is in Ikebukuro, which is also accessible on the Yamanote line). The store is located in a tall building that is situated down a side street and is spaced out over three different floors. The top level is dedicated to a small arcade, while the other two areas contain an impressive range of consoles (including obscure machines from the early '80s like the Cassette Vision and Super Cassette Vision) as well as games for the Famicom, Super Famicom, Game Boy, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and more.

One of Super Potato's greatest strengths is that it's genuinely fun to browse. In addition to its amazing selection of games, it also features an abundance of video game memorabilia and TV monitors playing video game demos and classic commercials. The only downside is that it's not always the best value for money, as most of the items tend to be marked up to reflect its clientele (which mostly includes jetlagged tourists like myself who have just gotten off the plane and still haven't gotten the hang of the exchange rate yet). In the end, I left the store with three items off my personal wishlist. These included a loose cartridge of Ganbare Goemon: Mystery of the Black Ship Gang (otherwise known as "Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon"), and boxed copies of The Portopia Serial Murder Case and Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin: Ohotsuku ni Kiyu for the Nintendo Famicom.

Retro Game Camp

Address: Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 3 Chome−14−7 新末広ビル C

Retro Game Camp is another one of the stores that I visited in Akihabara. It is a much smaller shop than Super Potato but is worth a quick visit if you happen to find yourself in the area. It is located on the main street running through Akihabara and is easily identified thanks to its bright yellow sign featuring Mario and a Space Invader.

Retro Game Camp Akihabara
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

The first floor of the store is mostly devoted to games for early Nintendo consoles (such as the Famicom, Famicom Disk System, Game Boy, and Super Famicom), while the second floor, located up a flight of stairs, pretty much encompasses every other platform you could imagine, from PC Engine and PC Engine CD-ROM² games to Nintendo GameCube, Neo Geo, Sega Saturn, Sega Game Gear, and PlayStation titles. While I was there, it also had quite a few consoles and accessories on display, which included, among other things, an Othello Multivision — a licensed clone of Sega's SG-1000 — that I'd never seen before.

The prices were a bit all over the place depending on the item and condition, but I'd say it's still worth taking a look — especially if all you are after is a couple of loose Famicom carts. I didn't end up buying anything here but spent a long time gawping at its selection of Famicom Disk System games and wishing I had a working unit back home.

Beep Akihabara

Address: Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 3 Chome−9−8 中栄ビル B1

I've followed Beep Akihabara on Twitter for years, so it was a no-brainer that I would eventually want to visit when I made the journey over to Japan. The store in question is located on a quiet side street, down a narrow flight of stairs, and sort of reminded me of an old antique store, thanks to its dim lighting and cramped pathways that snaked between mountains of stuff piled high to the ceiling.

Beep Akihabara
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

As soon as I entered the store, I spotted a few glass cases placed in the entranceway stuffed full of rare items. These included a Virtua Fighter 2 demo disc, soundtracks for games like Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, and a bunch of old Game & Watches. There were also boxes along the floor, which included a selection of miscellaneous game books and video game LPs. Pushing onwards, deeper into the store, I eventually found myself in front of a section dedicated to Japanese home computing platforms like the MSX, PC-88, PC-98, and X68000. It was here that I saw some beautiful copies of Hydlide, YS Wanderers from Ys, and Dragon Quest II for the MSX, as well as a couple of interesting homebrew releases for the X68000 Z - ZUIKI's miniature console based on the classic Sharp computer. These are the kinds of items that other stores just don't seem to stock and really set Beep apart from its competition.

After sifting through these classic computer titles, I finally moved around the corner and arrived at the console titles, including the PlayStation section. Here I was able to locate a copy of Ganbare Goemon: Uchū Kaizoku Akogingu for the original PlayStation, which is the only item I ended up picking up.

Ganbare Goemon: Uchū Kaizoku Akogingu
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

Honestly, I can't recommend Beep enough. Overall, it's a bit more specialized than Super Potato and Retro Game Camp and shines a spotlight on some platforms that aren't that well-known in the West.


Address: Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 3 Chome−9−8 東洋ビル 1階

If you decide to visit Beep, you should also consider heading next door to the Surugaya Akhibara "Game Museum". This is one of many Surugaya locations in Japan, which are stores that typically sell a mixture of hobbyist items like statues, CDs, and games.

Its Akihabara branch is an excellent spot to go shopping for games and has a pretty amazing selection. This includes numerous rows dedicated to handheld platforms like the Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, and Game Boy/Game Boy Color. On my trip, I was seriously struggling to find copies of Ganbare Goemon: Tōkaidōchū Ōedo Tengurikaeshi no Maki for the DS and Ganbare Goemon: Mononoke Dōchū Tobidase Nabe-Bugyō! for the Game Boy Color, but this store had both and for a surprisingly decent price. Because of that, it gets a thumbs up from me.

Goemon Handheld Games
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension


Address: Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 4 Chome−2−1 トレーダー本店ビル

Unbeknownst to me, my visit to Akihabara actually overlapped with the reopening of the main Trader store which had recently moved across the street from its original location, so I felt like I needed to give it a visit. It was situated just a few minutes walk from the main train station, and was another store that dealt in items like anime figures, retro games, movies, and CDs.

I didn't end up picking anything up while I was there, but I spent ages staring at the items in the glass cases, including the Japanese copy of Plok and a golden copy of Famicom Golf that was given away as a prize in Nintendo competitions in the 80s.

Book Off

Address: 1 Chome-6-4 Kanda Sakumacho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0025, Japan

Book-Off is one of a large number of "recycle" stores operating under the "-Off" branding. As the name suggests, it originally dealt with the trading and selling of secondhand books, but over time, its locations have gradually expanded to stocking other items, like games and electronic goods. Because of this, it's usually worth a visit if you're on the lookout for deals on retro games, with many of its stores having a pretty wide selection across a range of old machines.

Book Off Akihabara
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

Located just a short walk from the nearby train Station, the Ekimae store in Akihabara has an entire bottom floor dedicated to gaming and includes specific sections for various Sega, Nintendo, and PlayStation consoles, as well as a ton of PC-Engine/PC-Engine CD and Neo Geo CD games. When I visited, there were also a few glass showcases selling hardware and peripherals, which included things like first-party and third-party controllers, Famicom and Super Famicom minis, and PSPs/PS Vitas.

I didn't spend too much time here, truth be told, but ended up leaving with a copy of Ganbare Goemon: Kuru Nara Koi! Ayashige Ikka no Kuroi Kage for the PlayStation.

Ganbare Goemon: Kuru Nara Koi! Ayashige Ikka no Kuroi Kage
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

Kaden No Ken-chan

Address: 東京ラジオデパート 1F, 1 Chome-10-11 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan

This is probably the game store that people tend to miss the most when they visit Akihabara. Based on the first floor of the Tokyo Radio Department Store, it is a pretty small shop that I was only personally really aware of, thanks to Twitter, and sells a mixture of console mods, second-hand games, and homebrews/retro reissues.

It is situated in a retail unit located next to a staircase and is essentially comprised of a small number of glass cases, as well as boxes upon boxes containing old consoles and classic controllers.

Entrance to Kaden no Kenchan
Image: Jack Yarwood / Time Extension

Because of its small size and location, it isn't exactly the easiest store in the world to browse, but it has some incredible items you likely won't find elsewhere, such as the Mobile FC Creation Kit (which I've covered in the past) and the Famicom LCD Cartridge. It also had a decent collection of WonderSwan Colour games — most of which seemed pretty fairly priced.


Address: 6 Chome-14-13 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan

Friends is another store in Akihabara that would probably be easy to miss on your trip, if not for the cute Yoshi-covered sign beckoning potential customers down a small alleyway and up a set of stairs.

Located above a Steak restaurant, it used to be spread across two floors, but now only has one, with the owners opting to place a sticker over the "3F" written on the sign rather than replace it entirely. Because of this, there is a lot less stock on display than you might have seen in old YouTube videos covering the place, but it still has a bunch of games for classic Nintendo consoles in great condition, as well as MSX titles, electronic toys, and video game CDs.