Nintendo, the Japanese company behind some of the gaming world’s most beloved video game franchises, has always been proud of its humble roots.
It’s common knowledge among fans and gaming enthusiasts that the multinational consumer electronics and video game company started out as a playing cards manufacturer in 1889.
Interestingly, an image of Nintendo’s original headquarters in Kyoto, Japan surfaced recently after the city conducted a project documenting its history during the reign of Emperor Meiji from 1868 to 1912. For the first time, the public was offered a glimpse of what the company’s headquarters looked like back when it was still mass-producing their widely popular hanafuda cards.
The ongoing historical project, titled “Memories of Kyoto, 150 Years After The Meiji Period,” unveiled the century-old photo in December along with a blog post.
To those wondering where was the 1st HQ of Nintendo (pic1), it’s the same place than the old preserved famous concrete HQ in Kyoto builded in 1933 (pic2). You may notice that the letf part was still there at the end of the 90’s (destroyed at the beginning of the 2000’s.) pic.twitter.com/oZ5Vrc8cqd
— Florent Gorges (@FlorentGorgesFR) January 23, 2018
According to the historians, Fusajiro Yamauchi originally ran a cement company called Haiko before establishing Nintendo.
Originally named Fusajiro Fukui, he was later known as Yamauchi after he was adopted by his boss Naoshichi Yamauchi as an adult. As it turned out, adult men adopting other adult men to keep companies operating as a “family business” was a common practice in early Japan, especially when there was no biological son to inherit the firm.
Nintendo continued to be run as a family business for generations until 2002 when Fusajiro’s great-grandson Hiroshi Yamauchi retired and was replaced by Satoru Iwata. Haiko also continues to operate and is now under Kazumasa Yamauchi, the author of the City of Kyoto’s blog post.
The write-up also tackled how Fusajiro Yamauchi went on to form Marufuku Nintendo Card Co. in 1889 to producing traditional Japanese playing cards called hanafuda. The company also produced Western playing cards eventually.
Today, the building that housed the original headquarters only exists in photos since it was demolished in 2004, and a parking lot now stands in its place.