Kaori and Naoto were so very much in love in the summer of 1997.

If you’re a video game enthusiast with retro tastes, Japan’s second-hand shops are a must-visit. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, just looking through the shelves of classic titles and discontinued hardware is a fascinating trip back through time.

But on a recent shopping trip, one game fan and Japanese Twitter user @maruhigeya61 found an original PlayStation that’s not just a symbol of the state of the video game industry in the late ‘90s, but also the state of one couple’s romantic relationship.

The words “love love” don’t need any further explanation, but in if you’re unfamiliar with the symbol drawn in the center of the console, it’s what’s called an “aiaigasa,” which translates to either “shared umbrella” or “love umbrella.” Young sweethearts in Japan will draw an aiaigasa and write their names on either side of the shaft, symbolizing that from now on, they’ll always be close by one another as they walk their path in life.

▼ You guys know we love you, right?

So the used PlayStation that @maruhigeya61 found tells a story. Written under the aiaigasa are the names Kaori and Naoto, a boyfriend and girlfriend who were very much in love on June 16, 1997 (the ninth year of Japan’s Heisei era, hence the “H9”). The PlayStation was in its glory days at that time, and so the decision to express their love in permanent written form on the most popular piece of video game hardware on the planet at the time suggests that Kaori and Naoto felt a powerful, passionate connection on that late-‘90s summer day.

Fast forward to 2021, though, and this symbol of their love has been officially declared “junk.”

▼ ジャンク = junk

“This is a junk item” reads the sticker partially slapped over Kaori’s name, prompting @maruhigeya61 to tweet “This junk is so sad” about the console he found for sale at the Nakamura Ward branch of second-hand shop Otakara Soko in Nagoya.

It’s worth noting that the junk designation, though, is referring to the hardware, not the romance. “Junk” (pronounced “janku”) is how Japanese second-hand stores refer to electronics or software in non-functioning conditions, so the sticker simply indicates that the PlayStation has internal issues and won’t play game discs properly, or might not even play them at all, which is why it’s priced at an incredibly low 55 yen (US$0.50).

Since neither Kaori nor Naoto has come forward since the photo was posted, no one knows what happened to their relationship. On one hand, the fact that this symbol of their love ended up in an official pile of junk, definitely feels like an ignoble fate, especially when its been appraised as having less value than a bottle of Final Fantasy tea.

▼ Each of these is more than twice as valuable as the Naoto-and-Kaori-love-each-other PlayStation.

But on the other hand, second-hand shops aren’t playing with the hardware while they’re trying to sell it, so if the PlayStation is broken, it was already like that when it was sold to the shop. That implies that it still had enough sentimental value to the previous owner that they didn’t feel right just tossing it in the trash after it stopped working. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Sony’s next console, the PlayStation 2, was completely backwards compatible with PlayStation 1 software, meaning that if Kaori and Naoto upgraded to the newer system, their old PlayStation was then obsolete.

So maybe Kaori and Naoto’s love didn’t last past the 32-bit era, but it’s also possible the couple is still together today, and if you were to visit their house maybe you’d see a PS5 in their living room, with a new aiaigasa drawn on its canvas-white casing. But whether they’re gaming together or with new partners, it’s important to remember that while you can never just jump back to an old save state in real life, you always get to keep the experience points you earn along the way, and it’s all part of leveling up into the person you’re meant to be and the life you choose to lead.

Source: Twitter/@maruhigeya61 via Jin
Top image: Twitter/@maruhigeya61
Insert images: SoraNews24, Twitter/@maruhigeya61
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Follow Casey on Twitter for more unabashed ’90s video game nostalgia.