Every day, thousands of commuters and tourists passing through Tokyo Station have to fight against decades’ worth of video game-developed conditioned responses.
Sometimes, it’s really amazing how much of an impact video games can have on Japanese modern culture. After all, this is the county where the prominent members of the pantheon of interactive electronic entertainment can influence the food people eat and the music they listen to.
Being surrounded by so many high-profile nods to popular game series, some people even start to see connections that aren’t intentional. For example, the building planners for Tokyo Station figured that since the rail terminal gets incredibly busy, an information desk marker hanging from the ceiling would be easier to spot than a sign at eye-level. Because the detail lines of the wall behind it are angular, they even shaped the marker like a cube so that everything would mesh in a visually pleasing style. Then, so that anyone could understand what it was for, they marked the sides with question marks, a universal symbol for information counters in the travel/hospitality world.
But what they apparently didn’t count on is that the same design aesthetic means something completely different in the worlds of the Super Mario Bros. franchise.
kurt (@kurt_n_ash) May 01, 2016
“I just know there are some foreigners who think mushrooms are going to come out of it,” quipped Twitter user @kurt_n_ash when sharing the photo of the marker, which bears a striking resemblance to the power-up-dispensing Question Blocks seen for decades in Nintendo’s series of popular platforming games.
▼ “Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the gate for the Sanyo Shinkansen?”
@kurt_n_ash’s tweet quickly caught the attention of fellow Mario fans, who chimed in with their own comments and speculation about the nature of the object seen in Tokyo Station.
“I think Japanese people would expect a mushroom to come out too.”
“Actually it looks like there’s already a mushroom stem sprouting from the top of it.”
“It probably gives you a Starman.”
“I bet it’s a 1-up.”
Since the Tokyo Station block is higher off the ground than we can reach, we unfortunately can neither confirm nor deny any of these theories. Even if you’re in possession of a ladder or Super Mario-class vertical jump, you’ll need to get the stationmaster’s permission before conducting an experiment of your own. If you do, we also have to stress the importance of using your fist (not your head) to strike the block, and ask you to please be on-guard against the possibility that a Poison Mushroom pops out.