Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nintendo's birthplace in Kyōto

When visiting Japan a few weeks ago, I took a walk past Nintendo's place of birth in Kyōto, where the company still holds an office at the site where it was established in 1889.

Although my visit was limited to the exterior of the building (alas), it is nice to get a feel for the type of neighborhood that the company started in. Nintendo means a lot to me, even so much that it inspired me to write a book about its history. And with some imagination, you can picture in your mind the early days of the playing card business from over a hundred years ago.

Author meets subject

The Nintendo building is situated along Shōmen-dōri (正面通り) [Google map link here] on the eastern part of Kyōto, just west of the famous historical area Gion.

Shōmen-dōri means 'front street', named so because it was the street in front of the Hōkō-ji (方広寺), one of the important temples established in Kyōto in the 16th century. The Hōkō-ji housed Kyōto's great Buddha statue, before this was destroyed, a few times actually, in an earthquake and some fires.

Shōmen-dōri runs west-to-east through the city for about four kilometers, starting near the Tambaguchi Station (丹波口駅) and ending at the Hōkō-ji.


Nintendo was established by Fujisarō Yamauchi as a Hanafuda (flower cards) selling shop and workplace at Shōmen-dōri in the Ohashi area of Kyōto, on September 23 in 1889.


This promotional card from around 1915 lists the Shōmen-dōri address for 'Yamauchi Nintendo' (山内任天堂), the name the company used at the time (written right-to-left in Japanese). This would remain the head quarter address well into the 1950s.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Nintendo's 2015 company guide is a visual celebration of its past and present

In previous posts we have looked at various editions of Nintendo's company guide (see bottom of this post for a list). This guide is completely redesigned yearly and used by Nintendo in Japan to introduce the company to new employees. It is distributed to job applicants who take part in the yearly recruitment process at the start of the fiscal year (in April).

These guides are very interesting for Nintendo enthusiasts, as they provide a peek behind the white stone facades of the usually very closed corporation. The content focusses primarily on present achievements (recent game hardware and software) and the company's strategy for the future.

However, the guides also provide information on the company's history. Nintendo was founded over 125 years ago, and its long and rich heritage must surely be an important reason why young people choose to apply for a job at Nintendo.


The interest for the company's history seems to be growing lately, outside of company as well as within Nintendo. In recent years, these guides have also paid increasing attention to the company's past.

A few years ago, the history was dealt with in just one or two pages with a list of products and events. But the last two editions give it a much more prominent place.

Last year's guide was designed in the style of hanafuda cards Nintendo's first product that started the company back in 1889. And this year's guide even tops the previous one with even more extensive content that provides a fantastic visual celebration of Nintendo's present as as well as its past.

Nintendo company guide 2015 - cover sleeve

The guide comes in a very colorful cardboard sleeve. This sleeve is covered on both sides in many of the different versions of the Nintendo logo that the company has used over the years.

The front and back of the guide itself are also full of logos, printed in beautiful silver ink on a black background.

1.000.000 views

In February 2011, I started this blog, showcasing the toys and games Nintendo created in the period from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s.

I did not expect a lot of interest for such a niche subject. Still, today the blog reached 1.000.000 views! Achievement unlocked!


During the last 12 months, I did not have a lot of time for regular posts. Writing the Before Mario book and preparing the exhibition of my collection were both quite time consuming (as well as very rewarding!) But even without frequent new posts, a regular stream of visitors find the blog daily. Which motivates me to keep expanding the blog with more information as much as I can.

To all readers: thank you for the interest you have shown and the feedback you have given.

On to the next million!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Nintendo Punch Race (パンチレース, ca 1965)

In the mid 1960s, Nintendo started producing plastic toys and games. One of its earliest is the racing themed marble action game shown here.

Nintendo Punch Race (ca 1965)

The game is called Punch Race (パンチレース). The retail price at the time was ¥500.


The exact release date is unknown. There is no year listed on the box or manual, but the style of the game, box art and logo indicates it is from around 1965, possibly early 1966.

The front of the box depicts two cars that look a lot like the Jaguar E type, which was one of the hottest sports cars of the 1960s.


The box art also contains a large white curly shape that enhances the feeling of speed, with the name of the game flying out on the side of the box.