I’m a lister. I list everything from shopping list, lesson lists to weekly, daily, monthly to-dos… the list goes on. While I usually take lists with a pinch of salt, I’m taking my 2019 goals seriously. On this list, sitting in a little cloud, now checked off, lies the name Anata no Warehouse.
I’ve been interested in this gaming arcade for a long time and my interest peaked again when I saw the pictures from PewDiePie’s visit. Making my 2019 list at home in Japan, I decided that it would be stupid to not go while I’m here.
Travelling to Tokyo to meet my family the warehouse sat with top priority of places to visit and so, the day after meeting, we took the 40-minute train from Shinjuku to Kawasaki and walked over (it’s close to Kawasaki Station). When you get in range, it’s hard to miss the tall, rusted building and red letters.
Kowloon Walled City
The arcade is completely inspired by Hong Kong’s Kowloon City, once the most densely populated area in the world with 33,000 people squeezed into 6.4 acres of land. Before being demolished in the early 90’s, Kowloon city was synonymous with clutter, claustrophobia, neon and crime, ran by the Chinese Triad until 1974.
In Cantonese the town was called ‘The City of Darkness’, with 300 interconnected high-rise buildings completely blocking sunlight from the lower floors.
Despite its associations with crime, it would be detrimentally simple to describe Kowloon as a lawless settlement and leave it there. The city consisted also of law-abiding citizens, working together to improve life; creating a technicolor tapestry of people living within the close-knit fortress.
‘Some argue that the Walled City was an example of how people can work together to achieve great things. They say the residents came up with novel solutions to problems and created a city that was self-sufficient without needing guidance or an overall plan.’
Plans to demolish the city came in 1987, due to concerns ‘with the quality of life in the city, especially the poor sanitary conditions‘. The Walled City was finally demolished in 1993, much to the residents dismay, and later made into Kowloon City Park. The park has become a popular tourist attraction, praised for its beauty.
But for me, there are thousands of parks in the world, and not many walled cities…
If you’re interested in Kowloon City, check out the city of darkness website! You can see photos of the city as well as reading stories from the people who lived there and their opinions on its demolition.
Anata no Warehouse
Not the only creation to be inspired by Hong Kong’s anarchist haven, think Batman Begins, Black Ops 1 and Crime Story featuring Jackie Chan, Anata no Warehouse (in English, ‘Your Warehouse’), with Kowloon as muse, poses as a cyberpunk, dystopian utopia for gaming.
As a lover for all things grimy and raffish, I had to go.
Aesthetics start at the entrance and don’t lose steam as you worm your way around the faux-seedy labyrinth. The walls, toilets and even the vending machines were coated with the grime that I was so eager to see.
The level of detail was mind-blowing. Posters and flyers from the city plastered the walls, ‘with trash imported specifically and signs all hand-painted, with rust, grime and graffiti carefully added’.
The interconnected floors held games upon games, enough to please anyone, except maybe those looking for shooter games (they didn’t have so many of those). The 2nd floor held the gaming arcade staples- dance machines, Guitar Hero and the retro classics. The claw machines also waited in abundance on this floor. The 3rd floor was full of medal games for anyone feeling lucky.
The Kowloon theme is swapped out for a tamer, synthwave aesthetic on the top floor, with neon-lit Greek statues greeting you from the escalator.
This floor holds table tennis, pool tables, dart boards etc. The smokey and seedy vibe is added to by Japan’s indoor smoking allowance. Seeing someone leaning by the bar, smoke rising from their cigarette, took me back to a time that I wasn’t even alive to witness.
Anata no Warehouse is an aesthetic feat. As an arcade alone it would be a success, but it’s so much more. The level of detail that surrounds you in the Warehouse, from the bra hanging out to dry to the small TV flickering through an apartment window, is astounding; almost working as a museum to the demolished Walled City.
Your Warehouse is a method-in-the-madness, far-from-anarchistic blend of crime, grime, neon, sci-fi, synthwave and cyberpunk. It’s a space that, I believe, pays homage to the Walled City of Kowloon, that regardless of the cramped conditions and lawless living was remembered fondly by former residents.
Been to the Warehouse or have any recommendations for me to visit? Let me know!
Kowloon City Park:
Anata no Warehouse: