For those who grew up playing video games during the 1980s and 1990s, walking into the 8bit Cafe might feel like traveling back to your childhood. Hidden on the fifth floor of an unassuming office building in the middle of a busy Shinjuku Sanchome street, this small bar is packed with various games and gaming accessories from Mario figurines to Power Gloves to Nintendo’s 3-D gaming system and even Virtual Boy.
So-called in reference to consoles’ 8-bit processors, the 8-bit era of gaming began in 1983 with the release of Famicom (short for “Family Computer”) in Japan. In other parts of the world, this pivotal gaming system would be known by another name: the Nintendo Entertainment System. Shortly thereafter, games such as Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and The Legend of Zelda became household names around the world.
It’s no surprise that Japan, a powerhouse of the video game industry, especially during the early ’80s, would have establishments celebrating this history. In fact, the country as a whole and Tokyo in particular have a plethora of video game–themed establishments, but not many quite like the 8bit Cafe. Not only can you peruse various memorabilia, you can also pick any of the games from the shelves and play them while sipping on a drink themed after your favorite video game character.
Know Before You Go
Take the C5 exit from the Shinjuku Sanchome station, the bar is on the fifth floor of the building to your right. Open from 6pm to midnight on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. From 6 pm to 5 am on Fridays and from 6 pm to 1:30 am on Saturdays. Closed on Tuesdays. Don't expect a lavish food menu: The cafe serves mostly snacks and sweets (mixed nuts, cheeses, cake).