Gamer Heaven | September 16-25, 2014
Back again for 2014, this is for all the video game fans out there!
Let’s be honest: there are lots of tours that can take you to the Tokyo Game Show and show you around the city. We believe that the gamers of the world deserve a different kind of experience – one that includes game-themed restaurants and hangouts, a chance to see where local game designers get their start, and a tour structure that feels more like a party at a friend’s house than that field trip you took in fifth grade.
On Gamer Heaven, the Tokyo Game Show is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll be visiting countless game centers and arcades, shop for both new and retro gaming goodies, visit three – yes, three – video game-themed bars and restaurants, tour one of the schools that trains Japan’s future creative professionals, and serve up an optional extension that checks out the historical roots of gaming in Japan. Along the way, we’ll be holding nightly game tournaments at special sites across the city, where you’ll battle your fellow tour participants for the chance to win 20,000 yen in spending cash at one of Akihabara’s most popular game stores.
Fill your pockets with 100 yen coins and grab that passport – an unforgettable tour (and tournament) awaits!
- R/T airfare from Los Angeles to Japan
- Tour dates from September 16-23 for BASIC Package, until September 25 for EXTENDED/PERFECT
- Hotel accommodations: 6 nights in Tokyo and 2 nights in an onsen ryokan in Ikaho Onsen (TOKYO ONLY for Basic Package)
- Stops in Tokyo, Ikaho, Mizusawa Mountains (TOKYO ONLY for Basic Package)
- All transportation (train, ropeway, bus, shinkansen/”bullet train”, etc.) within Japan
- Professional bilingual guide services
- Admission to all activities
- Customized tour guidebook
- Nightly turndown service with local snacks and homemade sweets
- Additional OPTIONS available: Maid Cafe ($40), Yakiniku Dinner ($30), Studio Ghibli Museum
- Much, much more!
We meet up at LAX and depart for Japan!
Day 2: Decoding
Upon arrival in Japan, we’ll head to our hotel and settle in. That evening, join us for an optional trip to a game center to warm up your game playing nerves and see how the locals have fun!
Day 3: Robotica
It’s off to the man-made island of Odaiba to start our tour. Here, you’ll have the chance to meet the Gundam Front indoor theme park, as well as the massive Sega Joypolis Arcade, where visitors can play games, ride rides, and play some truly bizarre interactive games you won’t find anywhere else. We’ll then board the futuristic Himiko ferry (designed by Leiji Matsumoto) to sail back to the mainland and continue to Akihabara. Here, join an optional visit to a maid cafe or simply spend your time browsing the area’s numerous modern and retro game shops. That evening, we’ll stick to the area for the first round of our game tournament, held right in the heart of Akihabara!
Option: Maid Cafe ($40)
Day 4: How It’s Made
Today, we’ll start by visiting one of Tokyo’s top schools for producing future game industry leaders. After seeing how the training process goes, we’ll stop in Shinjuku, where you can shop for everything from limited-edition goodies from the Square Enix Store or weird flavors of ramune soda from local stores. In the afternoon, we’ll venture into Capcom’s own signature Tokyo spot, the Capcom Bar, for a thematic – and perhaps weird – snacking and drinking experience (and we’ll pick up the tab!). If you aren’t ready to head back to the hotel, join us for an optional all-you-can-eat Yakiniku (in-table barbecue) dinner before the main event of the evening: our second round of the tournament!
Option: Yakiniku Dinner ($30)
Day 5: It’s (Game) Show Time!
The day has arrived, friends – we’re off to the massive Tokyo Game Show to see what new goodies the industry is cooking up for 2014 and beyond. If you don’t want to browse the booths for the entire day, worry not – your tour guide will be on hand with some extra activities planned that take advantage of the surrounding seashore area. That night, we head to a game center for the third round!
Day 6: Final Boss
Today is the last day of the video game tournament, but before we head to the final battle, it’s off to Nakano Broadway, the “closet” of anime and video game fandom. Shop for products and games from a time gone by before we proceed to Shibuya (with an optional stop in Harajuku for those interested). Here, you’ll be able to explore the streets featured in the Square Enix classic The World Ends With You as you shop, eat local treats, or just check out the vibrant locals. This evening, we head to Shibuya’s Famicom Bar, where the servers – and your hosts – will not just provide drinks and dinner, but also play host for the fourth and final round of the tournament!
Day 7: Freedom!
Today is a free day in Tokyo for you to do ask you like. The winner of the tournament will definitely want to visit Akihabara again to spend their winnings ;) – as for the rest of us, you are welcome to join us for a special optional visit to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka to get an inside peek at the minds behind Japan’s most legendary animation studio.
Option: Studio Ghibli Museum ($30)
Day 8: Intriguing Ikaho
For those of you on the basic tour, the journey ends here. For the rest of us, prepare for a true adventure as we depart Tokyo for the mountain hot spring town of Ikaho! In other words, slip on a yukata and prepare to bid the skyscrapers behind: this is your chance to experience Japan off the beaten path, but with a definite nod to gaming history. After checking in at our traditional onsen (hot spring) ryokan inn, we’ll head to Ikaho’s famed stone steps – a mountainside stairway lined with old game arcades, tea and snack shops, and more! When you’re done exploring, head back to the ryokan to experience the hot spring’s indoor and outdoor baths before we regroup for a night of games (the lo-fi kind)!
Day 9: Mizusawa Mountains
The second day in Ikaho will have us visiting the Mizusawa Temple, an old mountain temple where visitors can sample the regions famed udon noodles and explore the huge temple grounds. Once your stomach is full, we’ll be taking a ropeway cable car up the side of the mountain overlooking the city to explore the mountaintop. In the afternoon and evening, take your pick of exploring the stone staircase, bar hopping, or just relaxing in the onsen before a fancy dinner prepared by our hosts! That night, we’ll have one last game/social night for anyone who wants to join in.
Day 10: Return Home
Return home and tell your friends how much fun you had!