Nintendo, the Japanese consumer electronics and video game giant, announced plans to open a museum in Kyoto prefecture, tentatively called Nintendo Gallery, in early 2024.
What is Nintendo Gallery?
Although Nintendo is now synonymous with video game consoles, and Mario, Luigi, and their flamboyant gaggle of associates, from its founding in the 1890s until the 1970s the company was primarily a playing cards manufacturer. It’s on the site of Nintendo Uji Ogura Plant, which produced playing cards and traditional Japanese Hanafuda cards until 2016, that the new gallery will be housed.
Located on the outskirts of Nintendo’s home base of Kyoto, the museum will present visitors with the history of the company’s products, exhibitions, and experiences that project its underlying philosophy. The plant and its surrounding grounds will be thoroughly refurbished, and will integrate with wider governmental redevelopment efforts taking place locally in Uji.
Why it matters
Most simply, Nintendo Gallery promises to be a singular attraction telling the story of Nintendo and in so doing, attract untold thousands of fans, both domestic and international, adding to Kyoto’s already enviable wealth of tourism attractions.
More broadly, it reflects a shift of thinking at Nintendo headquarters to more fully capitalize on the pull of its intellectual property (IP). Entertainment goliaths from Disney to Marvel to Lego have long monetized their IP through developing physical attractions, but the creator of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Princess Peach had been reluctant to follow suit.
Change began with the opening of a Nintendo store in downtown Tokyo in late 2019, a move followed by a deal with Universal Studios to bring Super Nintendo World to global locations, the first of which opened in Osaka this year, and news that Nintendo and Illumination are working on a Mario film set to be released in 2022. Whatever directions the company takes, it will have a permanent home to tell its story.
What Nintendo says
“Nintendo Uji Ogura Plant and the land surrounding the building will be used as a new gallery to showcase the many products Nintendo has launched over its history. Nintendo has been discussing the possibility of building a gallery, as a way to share Nintendo’s product development history and philosophy with the public.” — Nintendo Co., Ltd.