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Monday, April 1, 2024

My stay at Marufukuro, former Nintendo HQ

[Long post warning!]

Today marks the second anniversary of the opening of the Marufukuro hotel in Kyoto, on April 1st, 2022. It's a good moment to share my personal experience visiting this special place in Nintendo's history: the former headquarters of Nintendo, situated at the site where the company originated back in 1889.

Nintendo shop in Shōmen-dōri in Kyoto, early 20th century

In previous posts, I've shared the background of this building and it's neighborhood (check it out here), as well as some of its interior details.

Shōmen-dōri in 2023

Many years before the hotel's opening, when the building was no longer in active use and completely off-limits to outside visitors, I had already traveled to this location. At that time, I was content to view it from the outside, steal a small peek inside, and absorb the atmosphere of the neighborhood, which is the birthplace of Nintendo. The highlight of that trip was taking a picture with my recently released "Before Mario" book in front of the well-known old company signs.

My visit in 2015 (in front of a closed door)

At the time, I couldn't have imagined or even hoped for what would happen several years later: a full restoration of the building dating from 1933 and its conversion into a hotel, while preserving the original atmosphere and many original artifacts completely intact.

Hotel Marufukuro, Nintendo's former HQ, in 2023

As you can imagine, ever since the announcement of the hotel's opening, I've been eager to visit. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting closure of Japan to foreign visitors, I had to wait until an opportunity arose last November.

The buildings extends deep from the street

I traveled to Japan together with my youngest daughter, and during this trip, we planned to stay one night at Marufukuro.

As we walked into the building, it immediately became clear that it was even more beautiful than I had imagined through the many pictures I had already seen. My eyes darted between all the interesting details and beautiful items.