Indoor Survival Games
Get ready to unleash your inner Rambo.
Bullets fly through the air, grenades bounce around corners, and people in tactical vests move forward to secure the perimeter. Welcome to “survival games:” a Japanese subculture you can easily experience for yourself in the heart of Tokyo.
Survival games (called air-soft in other countries) is a sport gaining popularity in Japan where teams fight with toy guns that shoot plastic BBs. Part of what makes this such a fun tourist spot is the realism of the uniforms and equipment that you can use. Visiting a field feels like walking onto the set of an action movie.
An English-friendly place to try out the survival game experience is at Asobiba. They have a number of indoor locations in the Tokyo and Osaka areas. Typically, the venues often have English-speaking staff at their fields and their website has rules in English.
How to play
There are two different ways to play. If you have a group of friends, you can rent a field. Fields range in size from a small 10 meter long field, to a 15 by 40 meter rectangle, and a 660 square meter warehouse with catwalks.
The Odaiba field (the smallest) is good for groups of 5-10. If you want to go alone or with a few friends, the open games can be a great way to start (Akihabara is the most popular). All you need to do is arrive at the scheduled time. You can rent all of the equipment, including guns, masks, gloves and clothes, from the field.
Arriving at the field
Once you arrive at the field the staff will explain the rules, and for those who have no prior experience, there will be instruction on how to use the guns. You’ll be assigned a team, and you’ll work with your teammates to win each fast-paced round. There’s nothing at stake (except the thrill of the hunt), so just have fun.
Unlike outdoor fields, battling in tight confines can up the excitement. The fields are filled with life-like obstacles (crates, barrels, pillars, etc.) for you to take cover behind and shoot at the opposing team.
Inevitably getting hit stings a little bit and can leave a small bruise, but as long as you wear protective gear there is no need for concern. While the sport is often dominated by men, a lot of venues in Japan work to include women with specials for females, so it really is a fun and inclusive subculture to try.
Check out more sports tourism in Japan.