Marufukuro -Time Travel to the 1930s in Nintento’s Old Headquarters Hotel Marufukuro -Time Travel to the 1930s in Nintento’s Old Headquarters Hotel

Image courtesy of Marufukuro

Marufukuro -Time Travel to the 1930s in Nintento’s Old Headquarters Hotel


2022.05.29

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Marufukuro -Time Travel to the 1930s in Nintento’s Old Headquarters Hotel

Nintendo is known throughout the world as a gaming and entertainment company, but not everyone realizes it began as a maker of playing cards back in 1889. To celebrate that heritage, the Mario Bros. publisher has revamped its former headquarters into a throwback boutique hotel full of period furniture and corporate memorabilia.

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    Marufukuro -Time Travel to the 1930s in Nintento’s Old Headquarters Hotel

    Entrepreneur Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Yamauchi Nintendo in September 1889 in Kyoto’s Kagiyacho district. Its first product was handmade hanafuda playing cards, which found a ready clientele among the rapidly modernizing, upwardly mobile society of late 19th-century Japan. In addition to making traditional Japanese karuta cards, in 1902 the company introduced Japan’s first Western-style playing cards, known as toranpu (trumps).

    Yamauchi’s son-in-law, Sekiryo Kaneda, took over the company in 1929. Four years later, the company unveiled its new headquarters: a lavish three-story stone and brick building emblazoned with the logo for Marufuku (a circle around the kanji character fuku, or good fortune), which was the name of a distribution company that Kaneda established after World War II. Fortunately, Kyoto was spared firebombing by U.S. forces, and many heritage structures like Nintendo’s headquarters are still standing.

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    Nintendo outgrew the premises in 1959. The structure was vacant until the company partnered with renowned architect Tadao Ando and Tokyo renovation firm Plan Do See to turn it into a boutique hotel called Marufukuro. Opened on April 1st 2022, the refurbished building is a mix of old and new. The exterior still bears the original brickwork and a plaque with old-style Japanese text, read from right to left, that identifies the company as Yamauchi Nintendo, the maker of karuta and toranpu. An annex designed by Ando is tucked away next to the original structure, which has been divided into two parts, and blends in seamlessly. Each section of the hotel is named after a suit in a deck of playing cards. Hearts is where the Yamauchi family lived, spades is the former office, clubs is the old warehouse and diamonds is the new annex.

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    The interior of Marufukuro retains the classic art deco looks of the 1930s, and feels like walking through an Agatha Christie novel. There are period details like an antique clock in the lobby, tiled fireplaces and an old cage-type freight elevator. Hallways lined with marble pillars and green and beige tiles are illuminated by lights hanging from high ceilings. Natural light streams into the building through the large, original windows. There’s a feeling of understated elegance in these uncluttered, open interior spaces.

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    The hotel has 18 rooms divided between the original building and the new annex; the former can be real time-travel experiences, with authentic fireplaces, ceiling moldings and circular windows of stained glass. There are seven suites, one of which is a Japanese-style tatami room complete with an outdoor tub alongside a traditional stone lantern. The rooms range from 33 to 79 square meters in area, which is relatively spacious for accommodation in Japan.

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    The guestroom décor emphasizes solid colors, reds, greys and greens, as well as wooden elements and curved lines in round tables, sofas and bentwood chairs. Rooms have unexpected features including mounted Marufuku playing cards and the odd sketch by Ando—some are playful self-portraits—on the walls themselves. A few rooms have balconies overlooking the surrounding greenery and the Kyoto cityscape.

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    Image courtesy of Marufukuro

    The centerpiece of Marufukuro is its library. A low-lit, cozy nook of polished wood and plush seating, it’s lined not only with books but unique items in Nintendo’s history, all chosen by the Yamauchi family. You can admire vintage game controllers, NES and Game Cube consoles, and an old wooden Daruma doll. Other facilities include the laidback lounge, with original leather chairs from the conference room of the 1930s, and carta, an airy restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring seasonal ingredients.

    Marufukuro is located close to the Kamo River and within walking distance of sightseeing spots such as Kiyomizu-dera temple; it’s about 15 minutes on foot from Kyoto Station or a six-minute taxi ride. The hotel is only open to guests, and staying a night will set you back a fair amount. Rates range from 78,212 yen for two adults for standard king-sized rooms to as much as 204,490 yen for the annex’s Marufukuro Suite, which comes with a large balcony; these rates include three meals. All rooms are nonsmoking and have complimentary wi-fi. That’s just what you’ll need to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online while nestled in the cradle of Nintendo.

    丸福樓
    place
    京都府京都市下京区正面通加茂川西入鍵屋町342番地
    phone
    0753533355
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