The History of Nintendo: Gambling, Gangsters, and Love Hotels

By Jason Fitzpatrick on March 28th, 2011

We’ve all come to know and love Nintendo as the console maker that gave us Mario, Metroid, and the Legend of Zelda. The history of the company is an interesting, and not so squeaky clean one, however.

Over at the gaming blog Kotaku they’ve shared an interesting history of the Nintendo corporation that covers aspects of the company’s dealings over the last 130 years. Nintendo got its start when playing cards were legalized in Japan in the latter part of the 19th century:

In the late 19th century, thirty-year-old Fusajiro Yamauchi saw an opportunity when the Meiji Government legalized hanafuda playing cards in 1886 after opening itself to the West. Those like Yamauchi who previously played cards illicitly were permitted to openly indulge in their pastime. Yamauchi set up shop in fall 1889, producing hand-made hanafuda cards. The stone building, erected in 1933, often referred to as the original Nintendo headquarters, is not where the card company was born. The first Nintendo office was in a small, two-story building next to the stone structure. It’s here that Yamauchi started crafting and selling Nintendo hanafuda.

Hit up the link below to keep reading and hear how the primary audience for Nintendo’s early years was Japanese gangsters, they operated no-tell-motels in the 1960s, and more.

The Nintendo They’ve Tried to Forget: Gambling, Gangsters, and Love Hotels [Kotaku]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/28/11
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