Is this claim accurate?

Before developing video games, Nintendo owned 'Love Hotels.' Private short-stay rooms that were used for sexual encounters.

  • 5
    Sidenote: in Japan, these love hotels are an accepted part of daily life, probably used far more often by students and married couples than adulterers or prostitutes. No Japanese person would be ashamed of the fact of having used one, and they are not associated with organized crime. Aug 1, 2014 at 19:52
  • @MichaelBorgwardt Is there any reason students and married couples use them over their own homes?
    – Prometheus
    Feb 25, 2020 at 19:52
  • 2
    @Hashim: Privacy. City apartments are notoriously small and older ones also often not well isolated. People don't want their kids, parents or neighbours to listen in. Feb 27, 2020 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


It appears all modern references to this claim come from the book Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children by David Sheff and published in 1993.

In it, he claims:

The first product launched by the new company was a line of individually portioned instant rice. Add water and - presto! It was a dismal failure. Yamauchi then opened a "love hotel," with rooms rented by the hour. The business was, for Yamauchi, a personal passion; it was said that he was one of his own best customers (his infidelities were well known - even by his wife, who ignored them).

A taxi company Yamauchi started, Daiya, thrived, although he grew tired of negotiating with powerful taxi-driver unions, which demanded high salaries and expensive benefits for their members. he soon folded that company and closed the doors of the love hotel. he planned more changes as he move Nintendo again, this time to a larger building, a three-story structure of beige bricks with black door and window frames and bars on the windows.

Yamauchi had concluded that he wanted new businesses tha tcould take advantage of one of Nintendo's strongest assets, its karuta distribution system, which reached into toy and department stores throughout Japan. Nintendo's roots were in entertainment, and there would be no more rice or taxis or love hotels. Yamauchi set Nintendo on a new course as an entertainment company.

The Google Books version doesn't include any references, but Wikipedia notes:

The book is notable in that the author extensively interviewed numerous established figures in the industry, such as Howard Lincoln, Nolan Bushnell, Shigeru Miyamoto (spelled as "Sigeru" in the book), Alexey Pajitnov, and others, including people who spoke anonymously. Despite the title, the book is fairly neutral; it mainly relates the history of the company while looking at both the positives and negatives of their business practices.

I think it's reasonable to assume that David Sheff did have enough sources for the story of the three attempts at diversifying to justify including them in his book. However, I can't tell you what they are.

There's also an interesting reference to them here, where the author is describing Yamauchi's relationship with his daughter

  • 1
    Looking at the Japanese Wikipedia entry for Nintendo, the same claims are repeated, but with no references.
    – Ken Y-N
    Aug 1, 2014 at 0:20
  • 1
    An argument could be made that if it was not true, observing how wide spread the claim is, Nitendo would have somehow reacted officially. Aug 1, 2014 at 9:26

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