Last night, one of Tokyo’s most landmark SEGA arcades closed down for good. The SEGA Akihabara Building 2, best known for its iconic orange escalator design, had its final day of business on August 30.
The SEGA arcade has been open for 17 years, since October 2003 when the building was called ‘Akihabara Kigo’, and has been credited for causing an incredible boom of Akihabara’s otaku culture in the early 2000’s. It became such a recognisable spot that the building has appeared in countless Japanese video games, and various anime and game products have been advertised on the side of the massive skyscraper.
It was only discovered that the building was set to close after a notice appeared on the arcade’s doors on August 1. That meant that fans only had a month to visit and say goodbye. Plenty of people did turn up on the arcade’s final day of operation, however, as you can see in the video below (via SEGA Twitter) of staff making a final announcement and thanking customers for their years of service.
— セガ公式アカウント🦔 (@SEGA_OFFICIAL) September 2, 2020
No reason for the closure was ever given, but it’s speculated that the recent troubles that have befallen arcade and amusement companies during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused SEGA to take another look at its operations. Akihabara Building 2 was closed for a long time earlier in 2020 when Japan went into a state of emergency, but was re-opened in June. It seems like many people have been deterred from visiting public spaces en masse since, however.
It’s also worth pointing out that SEGA, as Japan’s leading amusement company, actually owns a large number of buildings and arcades within Tokyo, including Akihabara itself. So although the closure of Building 2 is incredibly sad, it luckily won’t diminish SEGA’s presence in the area too much. Notably, the large SEGA arcade right outside Akihabara JR station (that currently sells amazing Sonic-themed chili dogs) isn’t going anywhere.