Takaya Imamura, The Man Who Designed Tingle, Has Retired From Nintendo

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

In his three decades at Nintendo, Takaya Imamura worked on some of the company’s most iconic games, including F-Zero, Star Fox, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. He also designed Tingle, and for that, we will be forever grateful.


Today, on his Facebook page, Imamura uploaded a selfie taken outside Nintendo’s Kyoto headquarters and wrote, “This is my last day going to work. I took a selfie with the empty office. I guess I won’t be coming in here anymore. As you’d expect, I’ll miss it.” Imamura expressed his gratitude for the past 32 years.

[Note that he mentioned the offices are empty because many Nintendo staffers are working from home due to the pandemic.]

Imamura first joined Nintendo in 1989 as a graphic designer, where he cut his teeth on F-Zero. He went on to work on Star Fox, modeling the characters after his colleagues—Fox McCloud, for example, was based on Shigeru Miyamoto—and to design Tingle. Imamura also served as a supervisor on Smash Bros.

We thank Imamura for all the great characters and games, and wish him an enjoyable retirement.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.



I feel like Tingle is a character Nintendo wants to forget exist, which makes me sad because he’s a really odd character that somehow makes his shtick equally endearing as it is disturbing. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard mention of the character.

Happy retirement, Mr. Imamura.