Warehouse Kawasaki is like nowhere else in the video game industry, and if you want to see it for yourself, you’ll have to move fast.

Take a quick glance at the photo below, and all that rusty, neon, Chinese-language signing might have you thinking you’re looking at a photo of a Hong Kong slum from the mid ‘80s.


But then again, when you see shots like these, taken in the same location, you might instead think you’re seeing images from the future, specifically a cyberpunk and dystopian one.


None of those guesses would be right, though, because these photos are from the present day, and also Japan. What you’re actually seeing is the interior of Warehouse Kawasaki, a legendary video game arcade in the city of Kawasaki, Tokyo’s neighbor to the south. Entering the building looks like you’re stepping into a sci-fi horror murder factory, but as you’ll see if you’re brave enough to watch this eerie video to the end, once you’re inside, you won’t be murdered by biomechanical demonic computers, but instead will have access to a whole bunch of coin-op video games, with a strong emphasis on retro titles.

While Warehouse Kawasaki might look like the result of years and years of neglect, the aesthetic is entirely intentional. Located just about where the heavy pedestrian traffic from nearby Kawasaki Station dries up, the multi-story building originally housed an electronics and appliance store, but after the shop closed down in the mid-2000s, Warehouse moved in.


As such, the arcade is actually only 14 years old, but with such a large space to work with, the owners decided to go for a bit more visual impact than the standard neighborhood arcade. They settled on modeling the interior after Kowloon Walled City, the surreal secluded tenement development that stood in Hong Kong until 1994, though with a darkly futuristic twist.

▼ Even the bathrooms are spooky.


But just like Kowloon Walled City is no more, so too is Warehouse Kawasaki going to become a thing of the past. Fans of games, architecture, and general craziness were saddened by the recent announcement that the facility will be permanently closing next month.

▼ Warehouse Kawasaki also makes for a great cosplay backdrop, though as a working arcade it’s not always possible to set up elaborate photo shoots.

The management has declined to discuss the reason why Warehouse Kawasaki is closing, but it’s not hard to make an educated guess. While arcades have remained more viable businesses in Japan than in many Western countries, where they’ve all but vanished, it’s getting harder and harder to run one as a profitable business, as home video game consoles have gotten powerful enough that arcade games no longer offer much, if any, technical/graphical advantages.


In general, the Japanese arcades that do still draw big crowds do so with brightly lit rows of UFO catcher crane game cabinets and floors full of Purikura sticker picture booths. Warehouse Kawasaki’s aesthetics, though, don’t really gel with the tastes of the fashionable schoolgirls and stuffed animal fans who do so much to keep other arcades afloat.


Warehouse Kawasaki might also be feeling the pinch from the recent increase in Japan’s sales/consumption tax, which went from 8 to 10 percent at the start of October. As a coin-operated business (100 yen is the customary one-play price for standard joystick-and-button arcade games in Japan), arcades can’t easily implement a two-percent increase in their prices, which means the tax increase is cutting directly into their already thin profit margins, and perhaps this was the straw that broke Warehouse Kawasaki’s back.


▼ A sign announcing the arcade’s closing

Even if it’s inevitable, though, it’s still going to be sad to see Warehouse Kawasaki go, and if you want to say goodbye, you’ve got until November 17 to see this piece of Japanese arcade history.

Arcade information
Warehouse Kawasaki / ウェアハウス川崎
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Kawasaki-shi, Kawasaki-ku, Nisshncho 3-7
Open 9 a.m.-11:45 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 7 a.m.-11:45 p.m. (Saturday-Sunday, holidays)

Source: Warehouse Kawasaki via Hachima Kiko
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wonders if the Time-Out and Tilt arcade chains could have survived longer with crazy interior makeovers.