People are falling in love with the wide-eyed visitor from abroad who discovers Kabukicho isn’t really like it is in video games.

In Japan, TV Tokyo broadcasts a popular programme on Monday evenings called “YOU wa Nani Shi ni Nippon e?“, which translates to “Why did you come to Japan?

Presented by Osamu Shitara and Yuki Himura, who make up the comedy duo “Bananaman”, the show centres on foreign visitors to Japan, with interviewers approaching newly arrived travellers inside airport terminals with the question: “Why did you come to Japan?

The results are often surprising, as the show chooses to follow tourists who come to the country for something other than just ordinary sightseeing. This week, though, the programme hit upon a particularly interesting story, as they came across a tourist who said he’d come to Japan to see Kabukicho, as he wanted to experience the real-life Tokyo neighborhood that’s lovingly rendered (although renamed Kamurocho) in Sega’s popular Yakuza game series.

Twitter user @masososo_ watched the programme on Monday and loved the idea that someone from overseas would book a trip to Japan based solely on the desire to experience the rendered world from Yakuza in real life. He shared the traveller’s story in a series of tweets with screenshots from the show that have since gone viral, striking a chord with fellow gamers around the world.

The tourist, who’d come from Martinique, an island in the region of France located in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, told interviewers there was no big entertainment district like Kabukicho on his small island.

▼ The subtitles read: “I want to experience the real Kabukicho. I’m a bit scared but I want to check it out!

After hearing his story, the interviewers ask if they can accompany the tourist on his quest, and he happily agrees straight away. He meets up with them at nearby Shinjuku Station sometime later, bursting with excitement as he tells them he’s been waiting ten years for the chance to see Kabukicho with his own eyes.

As they walk towards the entertainment district, his eyes light up as he recognises the red gate that marks the entrance to Kabukicho. Walking beneath the gate, he can be seen looking around in awe, telling the camera crew that it has the same feeling, with the same shops he’s seen in the game.

After walking around for a bit, he then enters an arcade, where he spends some time trying to win a Pichu plushie from a UFO catcher before heading out to try okonomiyaki — which he also recognises from the game — for the first time.

The glee and delight with which he tries everything is totally infectious, and when night falls, Kabukicho looks even more like the game that inspired the tourist to travel here. However, there’s one thing that’s noticeably different. There’s no yakuza.

The traveller is shown walking the streets, looking for members of the Japanese mafia, saying, “In the game…people are fighting here all the time.” After a while, he eventually stops and asks the interviewer, “Where is the yakuza?” 

It’s not a question that the interviewer, nor any ordinary citizen for that matter, can easily answer, as the yakuza operate in the shadows of society in real-life and aren’t out fighting on the streets of Kabukicho like they are in Yakuza video games.

Still, the night is young and the tourist is keen to enjoy his long-awaited visit to Kabukicho, so he departs into the night, waving at the camera while the subtitles below read: “I want to try and find some people who are a bit more scary-looking!”

Whether or not he really did go off in search of more rough-looking characters remains yet to be seen, but it appears that he survived the night, and the entire trip in fact, as the traveller’s Instagram account shows him now safely back home after his trip to Japan last year.

People in Japan and around the world have fallen in love with the story of the man from Martinique, leaving comments like:

“I want to see this guy to become a sub-story character in the next Yakuza game!”
“This is so wholesome.”
“People have the most interesting reasons for coming to Japan!”
“Video games brought me to Japan too. I feel this guy’s story so much!”
“If they have maid cafes and butler cafes in Japan, they should create a yakuza bar for tourists!”
“I love his enthusiasm, but if he really did meet the yakuza, it wouldn’t have worked out well for him.”

While his love for Japan and the video game that inspired him to make the trip is something people from all walks of life can relate to, it really is fortunate that he didn’t come across a yakuza member during his travels.

In the gaming world, you can duke it out with gang members in Japanese convenience stores from the safety of your lounge room, but in the real world, the yakuza are far more dangerous and unpredictable, even if they do hand out sweets to children on Halloween.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Pakutaso
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