Like many people Square Enix has had a huge impact on my life. When I was a University student I loved Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. Whilst I was in Japan as a student I learnt that there was a Square Enix shop in Shinjuku. I remember trying to find it on a trip to Tokyo, but failing miserably.
Over time my interest in the video games has waned but over the course of the last few years I’ve discovered that the company has also had a hand in many manga and anime I’ve enjoyed. Despite that, after seeing pictures online of the infamous Sephiroth statue housed at the store I decided that I was curious enough to visit it. What I didn’t realise however, was that the Square Enix store I had decided to visit had closed about two to three years ago.
Instead a new store has opened, Artina. Just a few stations away from where the previous store was located and having a little time, I couldn’t resist a visit. Although I never had a chance to go to the previous store from what I understand from the research I did the new store is a lot smaller and includes a café, unlike the store that was located near Yoyogi.
The new store, according to the Artina website, can be accessed from the A3 exit of Higashi Shinjuku station, however it is a little difficult to find. Once you come out of the exit, you need to walk across the courtyard and up the stairs, then follow the long path down to the store. Eventually, you’ll see a round, white, capsule like building.
The inside is split into two. A white section, which contains a small shop and a café and a darker display area which houses a collection of the more expensive items, including jewellery and action figures. They also stock the more expensive play arts figures, not only for Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, but also from other games and comic books. All items are available to purchase if they haven’t sold out.
The café serves a number of Final Fantasy themed drinks, including blue and red materia and various kinds of potions. As for food, there are both savoury and sweet items with a unique touch, such as parfaits with chocolate buster swords and Yuffie’s shuriken, or pancakes decorated with powdered chocolate in the shape of moogles and chocobos.
I decided to try the high potion, a non-alcoholic cocktail made with mint and ginger ale. Upon ordering I was asked by the waiter if I would prefer a Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy coaster and ended up with a cute cactuar coaster to take with me as a memento of my visit. The drink itself was pretty delicious and what I would consider reasonably priced all things considered. If you have some time and it isn’t too busy I would recommend stopping for a drink or snack.
Surrounding the café is a small shop, which has cheaper items, like keychains, plush toys and handtowels (a very popular gift or souvenir in Japan. They are also a relatively cheap option and very handy, considering that many Japanese public toilets still lack hand dryers and/or paper towels). There is also a small listening station, with a shelf full of sound tracks and maybe a few DVDs, so you can check that you’ve found what you are looking for before you buy it.
However, the crowning glory of the store is, for want of a better word, the display room. The centre piece of the room is a large red crystal, hanging over a sizable collection of material.
Whilst, the installation is spectacular and really quite pretty, I was still slightly disappointed that Sephiroth seems to have disappeared. Overall, whether you are a huge fan of Square Enix or one of their franchises, or you only have a small interest it is still worth a visit, even if it is just to browse.