Sunday, July 31, 2022

Former Nintendo HQ opens as Marufukuro hotel

A few months ago, on April 1st 2022 to be exact, the former headquarters of Nintendo at Shomen-Dori in Kyoto opened as the Marufukuro Hotel, after extensive restoration and remodelling.

Recently, there was a nice surprise for me personally, which I will keep for the end of this post.

This building has played an important part in Nintendo's history. Although it wasn't the first building occupied by Nintendo, it is located on the spot where the company started, and served as headquarters for around a quarter of a century; from the moment it was erected in 1933 to the late 1950s. It also was the home for the Yamauchi family during this period.

The building was modern for its time, well designed and crafty built, with many nice details; signalling a company on the rise. It was commissioned by Sekiryo Yamauchi, Nintendo's second president. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Sekiryo's very successful successor and third president, also conduced his business from here during the first ten years of his reign.


The Marufukuro Hotel in 2022

After Nintendo's center of power moved to newer offices in other areas of Kyoto, and the building was no longer used in any form in the company's daily operation, it was kept more or less in the state from its period of prominence.

During the last twenty years or so, it become a spot to visit, a place of pilgrimage of sorts, for Nintendo enthusiasts from across the world.

Back in 2015 I took a picture there with my just released Before Mario book, in front of the door that remained largely closed for decades. [More on that visit here.]


At the former Nintendo HQ in 2015

When comparing the current 2022 version of the building with its former state, a few things stand out.

Two large circular 'Marufuku' logos have been placed on the top of the front and side facade. Although they look like they have been there from the start, they are new additions. A clock was added above the front door, and sun screens above the windows.


At the former Nintendo HQ in 2015

The middle section has been build more high up. Originally this only contained some smaller, single-story rooms and a court yard.


At the former Nintendo HQ in 2015

Most prominently, a whole section was added to the left of the building. Originally housing a wooden structure from the early days of the company, this had remained a vacant lot since that structure was torn down around 2004.


At the former Nintendo HQ in 2015, the missing original building

Fast forward to 2022, where we find the building looking splendid. The old exterior has been cleaned and the building is extended with tastefully designed additions.

The biggest change, of course, is that the front door is now open. At least, open to all who book a room for the night.