For many years, former Nintendo Co. employee ran a members-only diners at a secret location in Tokyo until it has forced to close it door due to the pandemic last year. It has since. Quietly reopened as a café, and this time, anyone can make a reservation. The establishment is filled with classic games memorabilia and the owner insisted on keeping its location a mystery.
The café named 84 was the brainchild of Toru Hashimoto, who initially started the place as a sanctuary for game developers to unwind. The name 84- which can be pronounced hashi in Japanese – is a blend of the founder’s last name and the year he joined the Kyoto-based games maker and the final stage in Super Mario Bros.
The 59-year-old joined Nintendo a year after it launched the Nintendo Entertainment System locally in Japan. Although no one expected video games to become the cultural phenomenon they have grown into, the company was reckless about keeping the history, industry consultant Hisakazu Hirabayashi told Bloomberg. However, Hashimoto has always felt sentimental about the products that his colleagues created, and would save small items meant for the incinerator and bring it home. He later left Nintendo in 1995.
“I moved a fraction of them for display at the diner, hoping my friends would feel nostalgia by seeing them. That made my wife happy at least, as our house is more organized now,” Hashimoto said in an interview with Bloomberg at his cafe.
The humble diner opened in 2015. Having no experience in the food industry, Hashimoto decided to open a spot just for friends “because they would be forgiving even if I make mistakes,” he said. To get to his diner, guests had to first a solve a puzzle to figure out 84’s exact location or find someone who already knew the address. The process of finding the gaming oasis was itself a game.
Eventually, words of the diner spread as celebrity guests would mention it in magazine interviews and TV talk shows. Despite gaining fame, Hashimoto has to close the diner when he lost his chef in January. He toyed with the idea of returning to Tokyo and opening a bar, but instead decided to revive 84 as a basic café that everyone can patronise.
As of now, 84 remains in its usual address, whereby Hashimoto reveals to those making reservation.
“I will tell you the address upon confirmation, though I ask you to keep it to yourself so that others can have the fun of finding the location. But moving to a new location is an option, and when I do, I may do so without telling anyone — so that people can play a fresh game of finding 84,” he told Bloomberg.
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