The very first Nintendo headquarters in Kyoto is being turned into a hotel. (Photography Michael Bowles/Shutterstock©)

Did you know that Nintendo’s history dates back to the 19th century? In 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi made Japanese playing cards, called hanafuda. His office was located in Kyoto, the former imperial capital of the Land of the Rising Sun. And this is where the future global success of the video game firm began. In 1933, when the boss created a general partnership called Yamauchi Nintendo & Co, the employees moved into what would be considered the manufacturer’s very first headquarters.

(Related: Aman’s secret garden retreat in Kyoto has opened)

Located in the heart of Kyoto, near the Kamo-gawa River – an area popular during cherry blossom season – the historic building was finally vacated in 1959. At the time, Nintendo was diversifying its playing card business by launching editions featuring Walt Disney characters.

But the move did not bring about the demise of the building, which is still standing not far from Kyoto station. Now, an architectural renovation company, Plan Do See, has taken over the premises to transform it into an 18-room hotel.

Seven suites will be the most coveted spaces of this project, shaped by the Japanese architecture star, Tadao Ando. He is credited with the renovation of the Bourse de Commerce in Paris, for example. Original features have been retained, along with the exterior facades and the typical green tile roof. A brand-new annex has been added to complete the hotel offer, which will include a restaurant, a bar, a spa and a gym.

(Related: Four vintage consoles for fans of old-school gaming)

The hotel, which has been named Marufukuro, is already taking reservations. It is already fully booked in the first days after its opening. Prices start at 97,000 yen, or about USD$836, per night on a full board basis for a superior room located in the historical building, booked for May.

However, international visitors will have to be patient. Japan currently prohibits all foreign nationals from entering the country in order to prevent the spread of new variants of Covid-19. Even those who had obtained a visa will not be permitted entry.

-Bérangère Chatelain