People in Tokyo and Osaka are being told to stay home. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared a state of emergency as the number of novel coronavirus covid-19 cases increase. And now, select electronics and game shops are finally getting the message.
Earlier this month, Kotaku reported that long lines gathered at the Yodobashi Camera in Osaka’s Umeda to buy Nintendo hardware. This was not the only location where crowds descended.
Shoppers (here, for example, at Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara in Tokyo) were packed close together.
The same at Kawasaki.
Even after the state of emergency was declared, people lined up at shops like Bic Camera in Tokyo.
And game shops continued to draw long lines for new games and hot hardware. Below is the launch for Final Fantasy VII Remake when it went on sale at Yodobashi Camera in Tokyo’s Akihabara.
There was reporting that some of the individuals lining up under increasingly risky conditions were hoping to resell Switch hardware, which is getting hard to find and is going for high prices used.
This week, Yodobashi Camera, one of Japan’s biggest electronics retailers, temporarily closed a number of stores, including locations in Tokyo and Osaka, due to coronavirus covid-19 concerns. Kotaku called the Osaka branch and was told that it would be shuttered until sometime in May, depending on the pandemic situation.
The decision does seem inevitable, though overdue. As late as April 12, there are still clips of celeb Takuya Kimura of Judgment fame visiting Bic Camera, as if to encourage others to shop. In the clip (screenshot, top image), he isn’t wearing a mask but is wearing sunglasses indoors as he wipes his nose on camera. The whole thing seems completely tone-deaf.
But at Bic Camera, the use of capsule toy machines, as well as game cabinets, has been prohibited for several days. The chain has since temporarily closed some, but not all, of its stores in Tokyo and elsewhere.
Last week, in-store arcade machines were turned off at Yodobashi Camera.
As these photos show, other game shops in Akihabara are also temporarily closing.
Osaka’s geek district Nipponbashi has been seeing shop after shop close for the time being over the past week or so and typically packed places like Ota Road are anything but.
For the safety of shoppers and employees, retailers in Japan are rethinking how they can safely sell games and game hardware while maintaining social distancing.
With more and more shops temporarily closing, that means ordering online.