Former Nintendo employee Toru Hashimoto has for years been running a secret diner in Tokyo that, alongside housing rare items from Nintendo’s past, has also served as an industry hangout for some of the biggest names in Japanese video game development.
As this wonderful feature on Bloomberg reveals, 59 year-old Hashimoto opened 84—”a combination of the creator’s last name, the year he joined the Kyoto-based games maker and the final stage in Super Mario Bros”—in 2015, and filled what was then a diner with all kinds of stuff that he rescued from destruction:
Never expecting video games to become the cultural phenomenon they have grown into, the company wasn’t very careful about preserving its history, industry consultant Hisakazu Hirabayashi said. But Hashimoto, feeling sentimental about the products his colleagues created, made a habit of saving small items destined for the incinerator and bringing them home…“I moved a fraction of them for display at the diner, hoping my friends would feel nostalgia by seeing them,” Hashimoto said in an interview at his café. “That made my wife happy at least, as our house is more organized now.”
All over the walls, meanwhile, are “impromptu doodles by the creators of legendary franchises like Pokémon, Dragon Quest and Mega Man.”
84 operated for years as a restaurant, serving beers and home-style cooking to Japanese games industry types—like Pokemon’s Shigeki Morimoto—who would gather and hang out, play games and talk business. But the pandemic has forced changes, with 84 first closing down for months, before re-opening as a café.
More importantly for a place that was previously a secret, known only to industry insiders, it’s now open to the public, though its address remains hidden and is only provided upon making a reservation.
Visitors are greeted by a Zelda chime when they open the front door, and “Many of the items on display at 84 are unique and unlikely to be found anywhere else in the world, potentially not even at the official museum that Nintendo is building in Kyoto.”