Reservations now being accepted for a night in gaming history.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Kyoto, there are a huge variety of hotels ready to provide you with a comfortable bed for the night. However, only one will be able to provide you with a bed and a side of gaming history as well.

The hotel we’re talking about is Marufukuro, a new place to stay that’s housed inside the former headquarters of gaming giant Nintendo.

That’s right — the hotel sits on sacred ground for gamers, as it’s the same location where Nintendo was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi, under the name Nintendo Koppai, in 1889. The building itself dates back to 1933, when the company changed its name to Yamauchi Nintendo and began to switch its focus from manufacturing and selling hanafuda (Japanese playing cards) to specialise in Western-style playing cards, long-known as “karuta” — from the Portuguese “carta” — and widely known as “toranpu” by the end of the 19th century.

That’s why both the words “toranpu” (“トランプ” , written left-to-right, according to Western conventions) and “karuta” (“かるた”, written right-to-left, Japanese-style) can be seen on a plaque outside the building.

▼ The name 山内任天堂 “Yamauchi Nintendo” also appears on the plaque.

As the business grew, the company established a new distribution company called Marufuku to help sell the playing cards on a larger scale. This is where the new hotel on the premises, Marufukuro, gets its name from, with the “ro” at the end used to denote an expensive building or stately mansion.

As the company became even more successful, it eventually moved its headquarters to larger premises in 1959, by which time the company had changed its name again, to Nintendo Playing Card Company. Since the move, the old headquarters remained vacant, until Plan Do See, a Tokyo-based company specialising in the renovation of historic buildings, stepped in to transform it into a hotel.

▼ World-famous architect Tadao Ando also stepped in to oversee the hotel design, adding a newly built annexe to the existing building.

The new hotel, which is set to open on 1 April, contains a total of 18 rooms, including seven suites, with room sizes ranging from 33-79 square metres (355-850 square feet). Guest rooms are said to feature an array of different furnishings so you can enjoy discovering unusual details every time you visit.

▼ A pre-renovation shot of one of the guest rooms, which will retain this original fireplace.

Fans will be happy to know a lot of the original features from the building’s heyday as Nintendo HQ still remain in its reincarnation as a hotel, including the old-school exterior.

The Marufuku trademark logo — which consists of the kanji for “luck” encased in a “maru” (circle) to symbolise “neverending” — also appears on the ferroconcrete exterior, as well as on an iron window guard.

▼ If you look closely at the middle row, you can see some of the patterns originally used on the company’s early playing cards.

▼ The trademark also appears on the front doors.

The hotel retains the building’s original fittings while giving them a modern update, capturing a retro charm that harks back to a pre-war, pre-Switch era.

▼ Pre-renovation shot.

While the building keeps a lot of its old-school details, it also boasts modern features throughout, and guests can choose to stay in renovated rooms in the old building or the new wing. The hotel also houses a restaurant, bar, gym and spa, so you can enjoy all-modern comforts while breathing in the history of Japan’s gaming past.

Stays don’t come cheap, though, with all-inclusive plans including dinner, breakfast, minibar, and drinks and light meals in the lounge priced at roughly 100,000 yen (US$875.12) per night for two people.

Bookings opened today, on 20 January, via the official website and booking sites like Ikyu. Despite the steep prices, demand appears to be high, as a number of dates have already sold out.

The hotel, located in a quiet yet convenient spot in between the Kamo and Takase rivers, is said to be a place where you can “fly away into your own freedom where exclusive experiences await” — a concept that sounds like it’s come straight out of the Nintendo playbook.

Hotel Information

Marufukuro / 丸福樓
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Shimogyo-ku, Syomen-dori, Kamogawa NishiiriKagiyamachi 342
Check-in: From 3:00 p.m.
Check-out: Until 12:00 p.m.

Source, images: Press release 
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