Arcades in Japan

Erica Faucher Headshot
Erica Faucher
July 3, 2024
An image of a row of claw machines in a GiGO.

When I decided to study abroad in Japan, I dreamed of visiting shrines, riding the train, eating at different restaurants, and shopping for Japanese goods. Going to an arcade wasn’t something I’d thought about. But one day after school, some of my classmates decided to go to an arcade in Shinjuku. I thought it would be interesting to see what Japanese arcades were like. I wasn’t expecting to have as much fun as I did, or to find myself at arcades many, many times again after that day. 

Arcades in Japan are different from the ones in America, at least the ones I’ve been to: GiGO, Game Panic, and Taito. There’s no ticket system; there’s no counter to turn in tickets for prizes. And, the game machines take 100-yen coins, and not tokens or arcade cards. I’ve also had much better luck at winning prizes, and good ones too! Anime figures, cute keychains, and a cheesecake lamp, to name some. These arcades aren’t just meant for young children; everyone can have fun at the arcade. I hope this guide encourages you to visit an arcade, and to enjoy it as much as I did! 


 1. Getting There 

There are many cities with arcades, specifically Taito and GiGO, the two that I have been to the most. I’ve visited these arcades in Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, and Shibuya, but there are probably more. It’s easy to hop on the train to get there, but if you’re new to the train system, it can be overwhelming. I recommend using Google Maps to help you get there, but also the Japan Transit app. You can plug in the station name that you want to leave from and the station name of your destination, and the app will tell you which stations to transfer at, and the time it takes to get there. When Google Maps doesn’t work well, this app has been very helpful for me!


 2. The Games and Prizes

When you walk into the arcade, it will be filled with claw machines. But unlike American claw machines, you can actually win the prizes, sometimes easily. The claws are generally better at grabbing the prize but do often drop the item before reaching the prize door. It can’t be that easy, of course! But for nearly every prize I’ve had my heart set on, I’ve been able to win it! It just takes some determination, and some yen. There are also many different types of claw machines, and some are easier than others. 

On the first floor of these arcades, the main prizes are stuffed animals and small keychains resembling characters, food, or animals. I’ve also seen small claw machines with wireless earbuds, lipstick, perfume, small toys, and candy. There are also large claw machines with large prizes, like giant stuffed animals and snacks (ramen cups, chocolate, candy, chips, and soda). But there’s also some more unique things, like the cheesecake lamp, pillowcases decorated with anime characters, different battery-operated toys, tote bags, metal water bottles, and coin purses. Usually on the second floor, there are more claw machines, with a variety of anime figures. They’re not impossible to win, if you keep trying! When you’ve gotten more experience with the machines, sometimes it only takes a few tries to win a prize.  

If you’re all done winning prizes, or just want to play a game, there are many video games there too! There’s Taiko no Tatsujin (a drum game), car driving games, music games, and more. I would say the arcades are mostly claw machines, but they do have many classic arcade games, just different ones from America. Many also have photobooths, which are really fun to do with your friends!

 3. Tips

A great thing about the arcades in Japan is the staff. The workers will usually be more than happy to give you tips on how to win a prize if you’re struggling and can even re-position an item to help you win it more easily, if you ask. Sometimes, when I was having trouble getting an item, the staff would walk right up to me to help without me even asking them, which shows how kind they are. 

I recommend bringing a coin purse, because the machines only take 100-yen coins. I’d head to an ATM beforehand to make sure you have enough cash. The arcades do have exchange machines for Japanese bills to 100-yen coins, but don’t tend to have an ATM. 

Another recommendation I have is to bring a bag for your prizes! The arcades will have plastic bags, but if you don’t want to waste plastic bags or be holding them on the train, having a backpack is more convenient. 


From shrimp tempura keychains to Miku figures, there’s something fun for everyone at the arcades in Japan! I wish you luck at the arcades.


More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs
Erica Faucher Headshot

Erica Faucher

My name is Erica Faucher, and I am a junior Medical Microbiology major! I love bacteria and mold, but also languages. I am very excited to be studying Japanese officially in Japan! 

2024 Summer 1
Home University:
University of New Hampshire
Explore Blogs