After-dinner family sticker pictures will soon be A-OK in the eyes of the law.

Believe it or not, I actually own an illegal purikura (as sticker pictures are called in Japan).

See, despite the fact that there’s been at least one member of the Baseel family living in Japan for the last two decades, it’s a rare occasion for us to get three generations together in Tokyo. So a few years ago, when my parents, sister-in-law, and then-middle-school-aged niece and nephew came to visit at the same time, after dinner we decided to go take a commemorative purikura together, which was technically against the law.

The Entertainment and Amusement Trades Control Act, as enacted way back in 1985, bars children under 16 from entering video game arcades in Japan after 6 p.m., even if they’re accompanied by their parents or legal guardians. So, technically, my niece and nephew shouldn’t have even set foot inside the building (as a side note, thank you, kind-hearted arcade employee, for bending the rules for us when we explained our situation).

However, in recent years more and more people have been saying the law is unnecessarily strict. Video gaming, as a hobby, is now mature enough that there are parents themselves who spent a lot of time in arcades (albeit during daylight hours) growing up, and thus know that even prolonged exposure to a King of Fighters or Ridge Racer coin-op won’t turn you into a backstreet bareknuckle brawler or reckless driver. At the same time, video gaming going more mainstream since the 1980s means that arcades are no longer located just in skeezy urban entertainment districts, but can also be found attached to family-friendly shopping malls.

But under the current law, if you and your spouse go out to do some shopping with the kids, grab dinner on the mall’s restaurant floor, and then want to go take a purikura or try to win some snacks or a Curious George stuffed animal/corpse from the arcade’s crane games, Johnny Law doesn’t approve of your family fun time.

All that’s going to change later this month, though. Thanks to a revision to the Entertainment and Amusement Trades Control Act that goes into effect on June 23, arcades in almost all of Japan’s prefectures (including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka) can admit minors under 16 until 10 p.m., as long as they’re accompanied by a guardian.

In celebration, the Taito Station chain of arcades is beckoning families to make a pre-bedtime visit by giving out one sticker to each child in a family that comes in between 5 and 10 p.m. Collecting enough lets them enter drawings for prepaid e-money cards or free crane game plays.

TS 2

It’s a happy day for everyone whose life has been positively effected by gaming. I just wish it could have come a little sooner, so I could have fulfilled my avuncular duties by teaching my niece and nephew how to throw a shinku hadouken. Without any adult guidance, the poor kids had to learn about Street Fighter on the streets.

Accompanied minors under 16 will be admitted to Taito Stations until 10 p.m. in Hokkaido, Aomori, Chiba, Tokyo, Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Yamanashi, Nagano, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Osaka, Hyogo, Wakayama, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, and Kagoshima. Accompanied minors under 16 will be admitted until 8 p.m. in Fukushima, Miyagi, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Tokushima. Party-pooping Iwate, Ibaraki, and Tochigi will still kick under-16s out at 6 p.m.

Don’t know how to throw a shinku hadouken? Follow Casey on Twitter, and he’ll teach you!

Source: Taito Center (1, 2) via IT Media
Insert image: Taito