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Retro Games and Amazing Technology Japan Still Uses!

Devon Lord-MoncriefDevon Lord-Moncrief
Published Time
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May 22, 2024
A bunch of retro technology: VHS cassette tape, a portable retro video game player, a cassette tape and a Tamagotchi.

Part of what makes technology so exciting is the constant leaps and bounds it takes, especially with retro games. But in Japan, much of the technology still being used can be considered old-school and retro. And that’s completely okay! Come learn about all the classic tech that Japan still uses daily, from media to communication!

Retro Technology and Retro Games Boom in Japan!

A Walkman cassette player.
The Walkman was one of the most revolutionary pieces of consumer tech of all time! Image via Shutterstock

Retro technology can be defined as technology from ten or more years ago that has essentially become obsolete. This can include various forms of physical media, antiquated means of communication, and video game consoles from yesteryear. What’s important to remember is that even though a piece of technology may be old, as long as it can still perform its function, there’s nothing wrong with using it. Here are some significant examples of retro-tech still used in Japan today.


A fax machine in a store.
Fax machines are still used in Japanese offices to this day. Image via Shutterstock

Once an office staple, the fax machine has seen a continuous drop in usage over the past 15 years. Fax machines allow people to send messages, photographs, and print material to a recipient’s fax machine. But with the rise of email, other internet, and telehealth services, fax machines are quickly becoming outdated. In Japan, however, many convenience stores, private businesses, and healthcare offices still use fax machines.

CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray

In the days before digital downloading, media was printed onto physical products that consumers could actually hold with their own hands. CDs (compact discs), DVDs (digital video discs), and Blu-Ray discs (the upgrade to the classic DVD) are all examples of physical media that can store music, films, and video games.

A collection of compact discs.
CDs are still solid pieces of physical media physical Image via Shutterstock

Physical media has faced a sharp decline in recent years due to the ease and convenience of digital downloading and digital streaming services. But second-hand stores in Japan still have plenty of CDs and DVDs in stock! This is because saving money on media through second-hand shopping is very popular.

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Flip Phones

Cell phones today are now smartphones, thanks to how sophisticated they are! Once simple tools that allowed text messaging and phone calls, smartphones are now touch-screen miracles capable of video and music streaming and gameplay.

A flip phone.
Flip phones have an iconic design. Image via Shutterstock

Flip phones were the popular cell phone style in the mid-to-late 2000s. Thanks to their ability to flip shut, they were fashionable and compact. In Japan, flip phones have started to make a slight comeback due to nostalgia and sentimentality and also because they are much more durable than modern touch-screen phones.

Retro Games are Popular!

A collection of retro games, featuring a SNES.
Video games originally came in cartridges. Image via Shutterstock

Video games came in physical cartridges before DLC shenanigans, Day 1 patches, and live service models. Classic series such as Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Legend of Zelda debuted on games like the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis. Today, retro gaming is as popular as it ever has been. Stores such as Super Potato hold thousands of classic games across every retro console imaginable. While many older games can be pricey, plenty are still relatively affordable.

Retro Arcade Video Games You Can Still Play

A collection of retro games featuring the Playstation 1.
You can still buy retro games in places like Akihabara! Image via Shutterstock

For many gamers today, going to a dedicated place to pay money to play the biggest and newest video games might seem strange, but back in the day, arcades were little pieces of heaven on Earth. While many of Japan’s classic arcades have closed down over the past ten years, plenty of dedicated arcades still operate today. Taito Tower has locations all across Tokyo for anyone jonesing to get their retro arcade kick going.

Why are retro games and technology still popular today?

These games and technology are popular because of their durability. According to most people, a product isn’t necessarily useless or broken if it still works. Today’s consumer culture tells us we’re falling behind if we’re not using the newest and best products. But they still work if our flip phones can still make calls, send texts, and receive emails.

A Super Nintendo with a Super Mario figurine in the cartridge slot, an example of retro games.
Have you ever used Japanese retro technology before? Image via Shutterstock

If our TVs still turn on and show what we connect to them, they’re still useful. If video games from 30 or 40 years ago still turn on and entertain us, there’s no reason to stop playing them. While there are good reasons for upgrading some types of technology, it’s important to remember that just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s no longer useful!

Do you have any classic and retro tech that you still use today? Is it an old TV or a game system? Why do you like to continue using it? Please tell us in the comments below! We would love to hear why you still rock retro tech!

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