TOPTravelAccommodationThe Story Behind Marufukuro, the New Hotel Built Inside the Former Nintendo HQ

The Story Behind Marufukuro, the New Hotel Built Inside the Former Nintendo HQ

The much-anticipated hotel pays homage to Nintendo's rich history

By Mac Salman

Kyoto was the birthplace of Nintendo. The company was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi on September 23, 1889. Back then, the company produced Karuta playing cards including hanafuda, a traditional type of Japanese playing card.

The history of Nintendo’s journey to becoming one of the world’s largest video game companies is fascinating, but the parts relevant to the Marufukuro Hotel, which opens in April, began in 1933. That’s when Sekiryo Yamauchi, Nintendo’s second president, moved the company into a new purpose-built building near its original hanafuda shop.

In 1947, Yamauchi established a new company called Marufuku, with a logo featuring the kanji for fuku (福) – or luck – encased in a circle. Marufuku manufactured and expanded the sales of hanafuda and other types of cards that Nintendo was then making. By 1959, the company had outgrown this building and moved to a larger space. The former headquarters remained vacant for decades, but would eventually become the home of Marufukuro Hotel.

Tokyo-based specialist renovator and hotel operator Plan Do See has given it a new lease of life as a hotel. Naturally, fans of Nintendo were eager to see what it would look like.

The hotel was named after Marufuku. The Japanese suffix “ro” (樓) was added, indicating a high-end building or mansion.

Pritzker-prize-winning architect Tadao Ando oversaw the hotel’s design and the addition of a new annex. He’s expertly blended the early Showa-era aesthetic of the original building with a modern sensibility. He retained the exterior and green-tiled roof, keeping many of the building’s 1930s architectural details and original fittings, such as its fireplace.

Nintendo lovers rejoice: there are lots of Nintendo Easter eggs around the place. For example, the original plaque on the exterior of the building. Some original patterns from Nintendo’s early playing cards can also be found in the art-deco-esque iron window bars.

The hotel has a total of 18 guest rooms, including seven suites across the old building and the new annex, which houses more modern rooms. Each room has a unique interior décor. The hotel features a restaurant and bar. The accommodation plan includes breakfast and dinner overseen by renowned chef Ai Hosokawa. An all-inclusive stay for two will set you back upwards of ¥100,000.

Location and Access

Marufukuro Hotel is located between the Takase and Kamo rivers in the southeastern part of central Kyoto. It’s a six-minute taxi ride from Kyoto Station and a four-minute walk from Shichijo Station. You can walk to major Kyoto attractions such as the Kyoto National Museum and Sanjusangendo Temple from the hotel, making it an excellent base from which to explore the historic city. It’s about one hour by car or public transport to Universal Studios Japan, home of Super Nintendo World where you can head to get a more modern Mario-themed Nintendo fix.

The Marufukuo Hotel is scheduled to have its grand opening on April 1, 2022. The hotel is already taking bookings via its website and usual accommodation booking sites.