My First Time at the Spo-cha, Tokyo’s Best Amusement Centre

My First Time at the Spo-cha, Tokyo’s Best Amusement Centre

It’s an all-you-can-play buffet of fun!

Imagine going to a buffet where there are platters upon platters of food, all yours to eat until you can eat no more. Now replace those platters of food with a wide array of fun activities — a buffet of fun, if you will. You can choose from basketball, futsal, manga reading, karaoke, and a whole lot more. The good news is, there’s no need to imagine such a place because it really does exist! It’s as fun as it sounds and the Japanese call it Spo-cha.

Spread across Japan are mega entertainment complexes the size of shopping malls. They’re big enough to house different courts, activity areas, and countless arcade machines. While it is possible to just head there for some me-time, you can troop in with your friends and have loads of fun as a group. After all, who plays futsal alone? By paying a one-time fee, visitors can enjoy unlimited tries on all of the Spo-cha’s facilities for a limited period of time. That seemed like a blast to me so when I was invited to go to a Spo-cha, I jumped at the opportunity even though I wasn’t much of a sports person.

My friends and I hopped into a shuttle bus that would take us to the complex that was a little way from the city we were in. It was an overcast day, but this wasn’t much of a concern as most of the facilities were indoors. After a 20-minute ride, we soon arrived at the buzzing complex; “Round 1” was proudly blazoned across its front.

We were greeted by a dimly lit floor lined with pachinko and slot machines that were spread out as far as the eye can see. Although not as noisy as a pachinko parlour (which can most definitely give anyone hearing loss), the machines still stirred up quite a ruckus. While my friends bought tickets, I came across the floor guide.

Just below the words “Active Sports” was a picture of a lady ironically relaxing in an armchair. “Relaxation and Comic”, the description read. Almost like a Manga café, I thought. My friends soon came back with the tickets and we were ushered into a lift that took us away from the noise.

Upon stepping out of the elevator, we found ourselves in an air-conditioned floor. As we walked around, I spotted an arcade area, some ping-pong tables, a karaoke area, the aforementioned manga library, and a fishing pond (yes, you can go fishing here!), among other things.

Some of my friends made a beeline for the roller-blading rink, but I decided to see if there was anything that would appeal more to me. Being an inactive person, I soon settled on button-mashing on an arcade machine, though I didn’t really know what I was doing. However, I soon spotted something I really wanted to try out.

It was the infamous table-flipping arcade game that once became a viral hit online. Unfortunately, when I came closer, I saw that there was an error notice on the console screen. Someone must have been really angry…or was just really good at table-flipping.

I soon found the others at the ping-pong table where we had a few games as best as we could. Not all of us knew how to play the sport, so it was quite hilarious. The best thing about it all was that we weren’t expected to be good at it; we were just here to have fun. After a few rounds of trying our best to start and return crude serves, another activity caught our eyes — the rodeo.

The rodeo was a ring of thick ground pads that circled an ominous plastic chassis held a distance above the ground by a metal stand. A few of my friends went ahead to try it first; some were able to do a couple of rounds while others only lasted for a few seconds.

I didn’t fare so well.

The rodeo was pretty high above the ground and I had to heave myself a little to get my leg around it. For our safety, we had to wear a faceplate akin to that of a baseball catcher’s. Soon a buzzer sounded and the chassis started to sway a little. Then the first big serve came. The sudden fast movement sent my head reeling and everything became a blur — almost as if I was being thrown to the side. I quickly relented and flopped to the cushioned floor below, dazed. This wasn’t my cup of tea.

We headed up to the top floor where there were courts for various sports. It was an alfresco affair with an overhead net to prevent any stray balls or arrows from flying to the ground below. The sky above was still overcast and there was a slight drizzle. Nonetheless, we made our way to the basketball court, which wasn’t occupied.

After playing basketball and attempting archery (the bows weren’t in tiptop condition), we were drawn to another activity. There was a futsal court complete with opposing goal posts, though there was an unmistakable difference. In place of actual soccer balls were huge inflatable balls with holes in the middle; they looked like oversized beads. These balls were gathered at the corner of the court and I watched as my friends went through the holes. When they were done “dressing up”, the top halves of their bodies were contained within the inflatable contraptions. I could make out the handles and straps inside that allowed the inflatables to be held in place.

Picture this: inflatable bumper soccer.

I soon got my chance to try on an inflatable ball and was surprised by its weight. It wasn’t as light as I thought it would be. Despite it being see-through, it definitely wasn’t possible to see where the ball was. You could see just enough to know if someone was nearby for you to knock them down. Yes, the game is that intense. But it’s definitely a lot of fun.

After a few rounds of helpless flailing and jostling with each other, we decided to call it a day. The time which we had paid for was up, and it was time to head home.

My first time at the Spo-cha was definitely a blast, though it was mostly because I had friends to go with. Heading there by yourself would probably take out half the fun, and you’d still have to share the facilities with other visitors. If you have time to spare when you’re in Japan and have a few friends who are looking to sweat it out and have fun, why not try out a Spo-cha? I assure you, you won’t regret it!

Also read: 24 Fun Things to Do in Tokyo on Your Very First Visit

About Author

Gabriel Oh
Gabriel Oh

A lover of words and their intrinsic value, Gabriel enjoys a good book as much as he does writing a good story. While he dabbles in illustration and photography, he just wishes that they would love him back as much. Gabriel has a deep-rooted interest in Japanese culture and language, eventually venturing to the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time in 2016. Having made many wonderful memories there, he now hopes to share what he has so that others can learn from his stories and eventually make their own.


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