There’s no shortage of fascinating Nintendo-related places to visit in Tokyo.
You could explore shops for boxed Famicom games, sit down and eat a Kirby burger, or play Punch-Out!! in its original cabinet at a retro arcade. Yet one attraction was hidden from Nintendo diehards for years. A cafe run by a former Nintendo employee where the world’s most iconic game developers meet to eat and drink surrounded by priceless memorabilia that fans would give anything to own.
Once only a rumor whispered amongst Japanese game fans, the haven for Nintendo hardcores named '84' is now open to the public. Often stylized as ”84 hashi” but just pronounced “hashi,” it refers to the final level of the original Super Mario Bros. (eight-four) and the owner’s name, Toru Hashimoto.
While the cafe was only reserved for people in the gaming industry, Hashimoto has recently opened it up to tourists. Fans can reserve their spot in the 84tour, allowing them to step inside a truly unique time capsule of Nintendo history.
From Members Only Club to Tourist Hotspot
Opened in 2015, 84 was originally a members-only cafe for those who worked in the gaming industry. It‘s not a place one could stumble into. Even now, you won’t be able to find it on any map, and those who do know its address are sworn to secrecy. Hashimoto created the 84tour, where tourists can visit, eat, and chat in the cafe for 90 minutes. Reservations are required, and the whole experience costs 9999 yen (just under £60 / $75 USD).
Opening up 84 to anyone risked completely changing the aura and atmosphere, but Hashimoto feels the change was worthwhile. “I was a little worried, but I wanted people from around the world to see it,” he tells us. “I had the idea of opening it up to the public, but due to COVID I had to wait three years.” 84 finally started taking reservations for the public, allowing hundreds of overseas travelers to experience what it has to offer.
84 feels more like a living room than a cafe. The large sofas, photos of the owner with his former coworkers, and small square footage is a far cry from many of Tokyo’s trendier eateries. Yet the humble aesthetic of the cafe is in sharp contrast to its treasures. The standout being dozens of art pieces and signatures from some of the most important people in the Japanese gaming industry and Nintendo veterans. Signed artwork of Link eating rice from Eiji Aonuma, handwritten sheet music from Koji Kondo, and a framed copy of Ocarina of Time with Shigeru Miyamoto’s signature is just a sampling of the one-of-a-kind items on display in the cafe.
“Guests seem most interested in the Mario piece from Miyamoto,” said Hashimoto. He’s referring to the artwork of Mario sitting down with a meal adorned by Miyamoto’s signature with “Super Mario 84” across the top in colorful block lettering.
Fans are immediately overwhelmed by the cafe’s collection of gaming history. “I was surprised at how deeply moved many of the customers were once they entered the cafe. Some even lost their breath,” he days.
Not every signature is from a Nintendo employee. Guests will find signed copies of Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian by Fumito Ueda, who is also from Hashimoto’s home prefecture of Hyogo. Signatures from Yuji Horii, Keiji Inafune, and many from Game Freak including Junichi Masuda also can be discovered. All include hand-drawn artwork you won’t find anywhere else. What about the owner’s signature? “I don’t think my signature would be allowed here,” joked Hashimoto.
Across from the seating area and the autographs is a cabinet containing many other interesting oddities and rare items.
“My favorite is probably the Panasonic Q,” said Hashimoto, referring to the Japan-exclusive DVD/GameCube combo housed in a chrome case. “It’s so dazzling.” The rarest item? “The Earthbound jacket or the lighter,” said Hashimoto, referencing a Nintendo 64 branded lighter that was given out at E3. “After that, probably the cart sticker for the Super Mario Bros.”
The cabinet indeed has a pristinely preserved sticker yet to be put onto a yellow Famicom case of the original Super Mario Bros. title. The cabinet also included dozens of rare figures and souvenirs collected over the years including autographed Pokémon cards. Across from this treasure trove is a small shelf filled with photos of Hashimoto with many of his collaborators over the years. Not many can say they have photos with Miyamoto, Aonuma, and Shigesato Itoi sitting on the same shelf.
In the back of the cafe is the bar area, including a gigantic TV running retro gaming ads. Here you can also peruse a catalog of some cafe-exclusive goods, including an 84 stamp book resembling a Japanese passport. If you need to make a quick toilet run, the bathroom hides dozens more luminary signatures. Likewise, not many can say their bathrooms have art from Zelda manga artist Akira Himekawa adorned on their walls.
Though the incredible items on display are the draw of the cafe, perhaps the greatest benefit of the 84tour is the opportunity to speak with the owner.
Toru Hashimoto, A Vital Part of Nintendo’s History
Toru Hashimoto, also known as “Chokan,” may be unknown to many Nintendo fans. Yet he shouldn’t be as Hashimoto contributed to some of the most iconic Nintendo games of all time including Yoshi’s Island, Pokémon Red and Green, EarthBound, and many others.
After joining Nintendo in 1984, he worked with Super Mario Club, Nintendo’s internal debugging team. Hashimoto collaborated with many notable developers within Nintendo and also other companies. After leaving Nintendo, he became president of SARUGAKUCHO, a company focusing on debugging and game balance. Here he worked on many non-Nintendo games including Culdcept for PlayStation.
With such a long tenure at Nintendo, Hashimoto has plenty of memories. “Nintendo didn’t have the culture of going out to drink,” he says. “However, I was very close with the people who worked with me. People like Tezuka and Kondo. Once a month, we would typically go out together and have fun drinking.” Who has the biggest appetite at Nintendo? “I think it’s me.”
Given the task of describing some of his collaborators in one phrase, Hashimoto’s answers shone a light on his relationship with his peers. Takashi Tezuka? “Close friend”. Eiji Aonuma? “Drinking buddy.” Junichi Masuda? “Kindred spirit.” Shigeru Miyamoto? “My great senior.” Shigesato Itoi? “I’m indebted to him.”
Hashimoto also has plenty of stories about beloved Nintendo titles. “The hardest game I worked on while at Super Mario Club was Kirby’s Block Ball. It’s similar to pinball, so you have to be accurate in aiming the ball and debugging where it will hit. That part was particularly difficult.”
Yet since Super Mario Club was credited by that name as a singular entity in most games, Hashimoto’s name does not often appear in the credits. “As long as Super Mario Club is credited, then I’m happy,” he says. You can find his name in the credits of several notable titles, however.
Bringing Cultures Together Through Games
Hashimoto hopes the cafe tour experience will help bring people together through their passion for video games.
“People talking about games they love is a communication tool that can cross different languages,” he says. “I hope through the tour, people can share their love of games with each other.”
84 certainly has no shortage of talking points and conversation starters. Tokyo alone is home to dozens of fascinating gaming-related places, but 84 stands alone as a truly unique experience for the Nintendo faithful.
Many thanks to Chokan for hosting us. If you're in Tokyo (or going to be), you can visit the hashi website to reserve your own 84tour.
Drinking at work is the best. It is so much more fun being an executive than a grunt.
Nice to have a place to chill out quietly. Seems like there is a lot of history in this place.
I remember seeing an article about this place a while back and wishing I could see it in person. And looks like that dream has become slightly more possible now that its open to the public.
Now if I could just afford to get my yankee ass to Japan...
Interesting piece, and place of Nintendo history specifically.
This is really cool!
I’m traveling to Japan in September and while I’ll have a lot of sights to see and cities to visit, I think I’ll put this down on the list of places I might visit; it sounds like a really cool thing to see.
It feels like Nintendo is sitting down for a beer with me. This is one of the most heartwarming and beautiful things I've ever seen on the internets.
Cheers, Nintendo 😀 🍻
@Sadist Reservations are required, so you may want to look into it now. With it only just now becoming open to the public, I wouldn't be surprised if they get booked up fast.
This is in Tokyo, yet Nintendo is in Kyoto. How did they frequent this place? I know they have a Tokyo office now, but this article makes it sound like a long-time part of Nintendo history.
This is endlessly fascinating. It's stunning to see so much history, so much tribute to video games, all in one place. Let alone a little bar of all things! That's beautiful.
And this? "The whole experience costs 9999 yen (just under £60 / $75 USD)." I've spent more than that to see world famous museums, so this is a bargain by comparison. There's not enough places like this bar in the world, but I'm glad there's a few that exist at all ❤️
Definitely doing this and hopefully sooner than later. Seems like a must-visit for any Nintendo fan in Japan. The price is a steal!
I love this! If I'm ever back in Japan, I would love to go.
I’m noticing other companies games on the walls. PlayStation games? I’m surprised it’s not tagged! Love the Mega Man tribute.
This is the Disneyland Club 33 to the game developers there.
I would feel bad just breathing in there, let alone eating or drinking >.<
More articles like this please!
When I started reading this article I wasn't expecting to spot "moon" first on that busy wall
"The whole experience costs 9999 yen (just under £60 / $75 USD).“
This is wild to me. This cafe has less power than a PS4 and you can only play it for 90 minutes! Nintendo getting greedy again!
@Maxz Oh wow you sure showed me.
@Cashews Please can I ask, what are you really saying with that comment? Genuinely interested.
Nice article, Thanks NL
Welp, yet another place I have to visit when I'll finally be able to go to Japan!
For those wondering "84 hashi" is just pronounced "hashi" because in Japanese you can pronounce 8 as hachi and 4 as shi (they're on'yomi, i.e. Sino-Japanese pronunciations of kanji, Chinese characters) so combined and contracted it becomes "hashi" (the hashi in its name is like furigana, small hiragana put above kanji to show its intended pronunciation).
By the way, in Japanese the Nintendo 64 is called Nintendō Rokujūyon (rokujūyon being 64, 6 multiplied by 10 plus 4), but is often called just Nintendō Rokuyon, literally "Nintendo Six-four" so the play on words in Miyamoto's "Super Mario 84" artwork is even stronger than you might have thought at first!
There's a typo here, "days" instead of "says" if you want to correct it.
By the way, fantastic article, absolutely loved it!
@Thomystic I'm sure even before the opening of the Tokyo office the people at Nintendo must have gone on several business trips to Tokyo and even if they didn't Tokyo is still the capital after all and you can travel between the two in under 2.5 hours by Shinkansen!
@dew12333 executives do not have to follow the rules of non-executives. if you want to have a drink during working hours - no one bats an eye. I've been in that position before - it is a lot more fun than being a salaryman.
@CharlieGirl It was a bit of a cheap shot admittedly, but it is genuinely interesting to see just how much the notion of ‘value for money’ can vary between individuals.
While it’s neat that this place is now open to the public, I can’t say I’m all that tempted to part with ¥10,000 to spend 90 minutes in a basement café surrounded by memorabilia (there’s also a drink and some sweets included, but I don’t think that’s the main draw). If I’m going to throw Fukuzawa Yukichi’s flat papery face at anything, I’d generally hope the experience would last more than 90 minutes.
Indeed, I can walk to 7-Eleven and pick up a digital copy of Tears of the Kingdom for ¥7,900 (or get a physical copy off Amazon for ¥6,836) saving ¥2000~¥3000 and netting a lifetime’s worth of sweet, Zeldary goodness. (A ‘lifetime’ is ambiguous and possibly not even accurate but if the first game is anything to go by, at least over 100 hours.)
While staring at Eiji Aonuma’s signature is no doubt cool, I’d definitely feel a greater sense of ‘connection’ by actually experiencing the fruits of his labour rather than looking at his name on a café wall.
Now, I’m not hugely into cafés (or memorabilia), while I am hugely into Zelda, so it’s perhaps not surprising that I’d go for the game over the café tour. Some of the people on this tour may be the opposite and love looking at memorabilia but be completely ambivalent to Zelda. I do however suspect that vast majority of people booking trips to the cafe will be hardcore Nintendo fans, and that the vast majority of them will be eager to play the latest release in one of Nintendo’s tentpole franchises, making the whole idea of choosing between the newest Zelda or a café tour rather silly.
Anyway, that’s a lot of a words to say I don’t think you’re wrong or that you need to be ‘shown’ anything, but it is interesting to see how subjective the idea of ‘good value’ can be .
Incidentally, I can’t imagine paying more than ¥1000 (let alone ¥10,000!) to visit a museum. Europe — in particular London — has spoilt me with endless free-entry exhibitions and events.
wow. that looks so cool and interesting.
@Cashews Thanks for replying, I had presumed this was the line but was just shocked that someone would say that out loud.
@dew12333 It shouldn't be so shocking nor should it be a big deal. In my travels to South/Central America it is super common to see construction workers, office guys, etc have a beer at lunch. It is 500 degrees having one light beer won't make you crash the truck. Western puritanical views on alcohol are ridiculous to me. Treat adults like babies and they act like babies. As evidenced by our entire society right now.
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