Welcome Ladies and Gents to this week’s Throwback Thursday, where yours truly remembers when he visited the house that Link (and Mario) built.
In 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to travel around Japan. The first stop on my itinerary was the uber metropolis of Tokyo. In Tokyo, I went to Akihabara, met robots, hung out with some girls from Harajuku, meditated in an old temple, slept in a capsule, wore a kimono and saw the longest queue in the world for pancakes. I’m British, so queuing is fascinating to me.
After all that was said and done, I hopped on to the gloriously futuristic Shinkansen “bullet” train on my way to the beautiful city of Kyoto.
Kyoto is one of those places that just gets things right. It’s not too contemporary, but it’s not too traditional either. There’s a lot of people there, but there’s room to move and nobody invades your personal space. The city is surrounded by gorgeous green hills and ancient temples, so it’s not surprising that Miyamoto san was inspired by Kyoto to create the epic fantasy of The Legend of Zelda.
Close to Kyoto is Nara national park, which is home to the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. It’s also home to some very peculiar deer who have an appetite for maps. Apparently, they protect the city, so I felt the trade was fair. Walking around Nara national park really felt like I was Link while he fights Deku shrubs in the Lost Woods. In retrospect, throwing that one lady’s chickens around probably wasn’t as fun as in the game.
Spending too much time in one place wasn’t on the cards, so I decided to hop onto the snail train and head back to Kyoto. On the train ride over, I was planning my trip to Death Mountain (or Mt. Fuji as everyone else calls it) as that would have been the next logical step after beating the first temple in the forest, when everything went in slow motion and I saw the NES shaped (and coloured) building of Nintendo head quarters Japan. I jumped off at the next stop and yelled to a cab driver “Nintendo!” as I pushed an old lady out of the way and got into the back seat. The cab driver stepped on it and within minutes we had arrived.
I got out and instantly fell to my knees in reverence to the House of Nintendo. I had made it. My accidental pilgrimage complete. I humbly got back on my feet and walked to the entrance, wondering of the Willy Wonka-esque activities going on inside. Head full of expectation, I reached the door handle and gave it a good tug. It didn’t budge. I then pushed and pulled, increasing in frequency because that’s how doors open if they’re not opening on the first go. Didn’t work. Maybe it was a futuristic Japanese door that required a special button. I looked around. There were no buttons. I looked at my watch and came to the realisation that Nintendo HQ was closed for the rest of the day and everyone had gone home. I immediately recreated the scene where Darth Vader has just been told (SPOILER ALERT) that Padmé is dead.
After that anticlimax, I then rode the disappointment train back to Kyoto to soak my sorrows in what I thought was green tea. At least the multicoloured Gorons of Mt. Fuji were much more entertaining.