Gifu Retro Museum

Japan is a country rich in history, and a country that is rich in history is also rich in museums. There are many national and prefectural museums that focus on the history of Japan both for culture and art. However, almost all of these museums focus on periods of Japan up through the Meiji era (through 1912) and World War II. Very few focus on the development of Japan after.

To pick up the slack, there are many independent Retro museums that can be found in small towns and resort towns. Owners of these museums curate their personal collections of 50-60 year old technology and memorabilia. Most of these gathered from friends or business upgrading their old stuff.

The Gifu Retro Museum is a little different than other retro museum I've been to before. It does curate stuff from the past, but it would be more accurate to call this a Retro Amusement Center. The entry fee is timed, rather than a flat fee.

Adults to Junior High students
One hour is 800
Three Hours is 2000
All Day is 3000
Elementary school students
One hour is 500
Three Hours is 1300
All Day is 2000
Children ages 4 to 6 years old
One hour is 300
Three Hours is 800
All Day is 800

The "museum" is divided into three distinct separate rooms, each with their own distinctive feel and purpose. I'm sure that the entry pass is required for all three areas. The three rooms are the main room in the middle, which has snacks and arcade machines, the pachinko room on the right, and the food lounge to the left.

Main Room

When you enter the middle room, there are old posters and knick knacks pinned to the wall and sitting on old arcade machines and soda machines. When you exit the immediate entrance area, you exit an old style candy shop with lots of sweets and candy for sale.

A few arcade games and several amusement games are fit against the walls where there is space. There is a wack-a-mole game and racing game that probably distributed tickets back in the day. There's a flag game, where the characters tell you to raise or lower flags. There's also a Janken game where you deposit some amount of coin medals. If you win, a roulette will spin and its possible to get 20 times your coins back.

For Arcade machines, they had an After Burner and Super Hang-on machine. They had a Neo Geo switcher with a few games installed. A cocktail Nintendo VS cabinet, with Super Mario Bros, Mario Bros, and a few others. They had a cabinet with Darkstalkers currently installed. (Curious if they had any other CPS2 games in the back.)

With the entry paid for time, all arcade games were set to Free Play. So, you could do whatever you like. I played the Flag game for a little bit, trying to quickly understand the Japanese, and I played the Janken game too. The Janken game would be a really fun programming project if I get the chance to learn FPGA programming.

Pachinko Room

The Main Room leads into the Pachinko room, which is also accessible from the outside. This seems to be the main draw for people to come here.

The Pachinko room has two rows full of machines from the late 80s and early 90s. They probably rescued this from an old Pachinko parlor that was getting demolished. All machines work and already had a few people on them right as the museum opened in the morning.

I wasn't exactly sure how the room was supposed to work. In a real pachinko parlor, you buy your balls and go to town on a machine. But, I wasn't sure if you still bought balls even after paying the entry fee, or if you could just grab a tray and mess around? Bleh, I really should've asked, but I was already self-conscious enough with the clerks constantly watching me take photos.

This seems like a pretty good activity for the elderly people living in the town. Rather than have them blow tons of money at a real pachinko parlor, they could pay $30 to sit in here all day. They could play the pachinko games they may have played years ago, and try to beat each other's high scores. It would be an amazing place to have a pachinko tournament, too.

I would imagine you could use the balls for free because if you actually had to pay for the balls, then they would have to pay out if you actually won a lot.

Food Area

The third area to the right of the entrance is the food area where they have collected several vintage vending machines.

There were some vending machine that gave out ice cream and burgers, but many of them sold noodles. I think they were all in working order, but I didn't try any of them out. It was still early in the morning, and I had lunch plans for later.

The best part of this room was the Mac and Me banner advertising the home video release.


I think if you plan on playing vintage Pachinko for a few hours, it would be worth the visit. But otherwise, there were too few arcade games to make it worthwhile and there really weren't that many knick knacks to consider it a true retro museum. It's a bit expensive, too, so I wouldn't really recommend it.

The Gifu Retro Museum is located in Yamagata City, north of Gifu. Here's the location in Google Maps. The parking lot is behind the building, which can be difficult to understand when you first arrive.

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