If you have been in Japan for more than a few weeks this past decade you are almost bound to have heard of or seen the massively popular adventure TV game, Monster Hunter by the game company Capcom. When I was visiting Tokyo’s seaside Odaiba district the other day I came across a massive pop-up store based on the game, it was almost like a little theme park with a couple of huge and incredibly well done blow up monsters. The monsters were hugely popular with tourists and kids, most of whom I doubt have ever played the game itself! There was even corner inside the store where you can practice roasting the meat of your hunted monsters, every time you roasted it well the little meat roasting tune would sound and you’d get bonus points – a hilarious little detail that you can only understand if you have played the game. I have, for about 3 hours, many years ago. There’s even a video on Youtube with 173,822 hits of some guy playing the meat roasting tune on a recorder!
Even if you aren’t much interested in games it is good to remember at least the title of this game, it is easily one of the most popular games in Japan right now, with quite a cosplay following as well! Click the Monster Hunter tag to get all my posts about Monster Hunter!
At Roppongi Hills you can enjoy a meal or a drink while checking out the tenth installment of the famous Dragon Quest game series. There’s a special menu, cardboard figures on display and even a car decorated in the usual itasha fashion. The handsome waiter didn’t flinch at all when I took his picture and they even had the famous blue slime nikuman for sale! Although not for take out I was informed. I missed them when they went on sale in the convenience stores a few months ago. If you are a fan of the Dragon Quest games you must attend! This whole thing is done in collaboration with the official Dragon Quest bar in Roppongi that I have passed a hundred times but never had the courage to enter. One of these days I will have to make a blog post about it!
If there is one thing I love the Japanese for it is the ability to keep their traditions alive! Here’s something I came across for the first time at the Kappabashi Tanabata festival on last weekend, near Tokyo’s Asakusa district. A man was challenging anyone for a game of Touhachiken (東八拳), a traditional game of reflect, coordination and wits that’s been practiced at least since the Edo period of pre-modern Japan. The table set up is very traditional and absolutely gorgeous – it is so typically Japanese to design and craft something like this for a simple game of gestures! The wooden blocks are score markers and the first one to win three games in a row is the winner. It is similar to the western “Pat-a-cake” game but much more complicated. The man was obviously a pro but even then he lost a couple of times to the little girl! The boys who were watching didn’t dare try it out though. If I ever meet someone who knows this game I will have to take a lesson! Here’s a good video of the game in action with traditional music accompanying them.
While walking around Akihabara the other day (I don’t get too many chances to just wander around freely these days) I happened to pass the huge Mandarake store there and saw their exhibition of game art, the characters of a strategy game loosely modeled on the epic wars over 400 years ago in Japan, but this time with cats! Adorable, cute, ferocious little kittens duking it out in what looks like a cross between Pet Station and Dragon Quest. The name itself, Nobunyaga is a pun on the historic character Nobunaga (nya being the cute pet word for cat). I guess it’s also a parody of the famous game with the very similar name, but not being a big fan of games I can’t give much more details. I just loved the illustrations! So, which one is you favorite?