Nintendo, as a company, has been around for a staggeringly long time. The Kyoto-based gaming giant has a very interesting past that is speckled with differing ventures such as playing cards, love hotels and innovative new toys. For some the journey to its original headquarters is a pilgrimage.
I am certainly one of those people.
As my wife and I planned out our first ever (and possibly last) vacation in the Land of the Rising Sun she asked if I wanted to try and visit the current Nintendo headquarters. I told her that while it would be neat, I had heard it was nothing more than a big white square settled in south Kyoto. No tours. No museum. No Miyamoto sitting on the front steps throwing stuffed Pikmin and signing autographs.
What did appeal to me was finding the fabled "original" Nintendo headquarters, which was established in the heart of Kyoto's long gone red light district in the the late 1950s. While Nintendo operated out of a few small buildings and shops before this location, this is their first true headquarters as a bigwig playing card company. My wife asked if, unlike the current headquarters, we could go in this original building. Nope.
Some have found their way inside in the past, but the building is officially sealed off to the public. "So why go at all?" my wife eventually asked. I just shrugged and told her that it was a well known piece of history and I would enjoy just being able to stand in it's shadow. It's like a famous statue or any monument to a time long gone. It's just interesting to witness firsthand.
The problem with this particular building is that is pretty much not on the map. Well, I should say the building is technically on the map, but it's not labeled. There's no solid address to type in so you can find it if you're ever wandering the streets of Kyoto.
And wander we did! Using clues from other sites we pieced together the general area (beside a river, north of Shichijo, east of Kiyamachi, etc.) and just went looking for a building that matched the description. Just as we were giving up hope, my wife pointed out a nearby structure that looked similar to the one in a picture we had found.
So here's how to find it, should you ever need directions.
The three story brick building is located on a street known as Syomen Dori and next to the prominent Kamo River. It's really not as hidden as everyone seems to claim and we actually passed it on our cab ride back to Kyoto station later in the week.
Here's an actual map that you can use to find the address. I dropped a pin in the exact location of the building so you can find it with ease.
Here's a view from the street.
And should you ever just need actual coordinates you can punch in the following - 34.99168, 135.76628.
It's just a big locked building and I can understand how many might find it silly to seek it out, but I don't think I was happier during our travels then when my wife spotted the old Nintendo plaque on the side of this monument to the Big N's legacy.