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When Was The Last Time Miyamoto 'Upended The Tea Table?'

By far my highlight of E3 this year was getting the chance to interview Shigeru Miyamoto. I spent 45 minutes chatting with him and it was honestly an incredible moment for me. So I’m sort of ashamed that the first post from our epic interview is this one, but it was an amazing little story that was too awesome not to share…

But first some context — Shigeru Miyamoto is legendary for ‘upending the tea table’. In Japanese the phrase is ‘chabudai gaeshi’ and it represents an expression of anger, frustration and disapproval. Miyamoto typically ‘upends the tea table’ if development on a game isn’t going to his liking, or if a project needs a dramatic turnaround. According to legend he most famously he upended the tea table during the early development of Metroid Prime.

But, interestingly, Zelda Director Eiji Aonuma claims that Miyamoto’s tea table flips aren’t really aggressive, more like a metaphorical shift in perspective. Apparently Miyamoto simply approaches existing projects and flips them on their head, providing new insight into how a game could or should work.

Regardless, I wanted to know when the last time Miyamoto ‘upended the tea table’. So I asked him…

“I always say that I’ve stopped flipping the tea table,” Miyamoto said, laughing.

“It did actually happen very recently for E3. We released a developer video where I was talking to the camera about Pikmin 3 and the video production staff filmed it and then they showed me a cut of it. I looked at it and said, ‘oh, why can’t we take little Pikmin and put them all over me in the video?’

(At this point, Miyamoto started cackling with laughter.)

“Then the video production staff looked at me and said, ‘is this the upending of the tea table?’ Because that was a very difficult thing to do! But they did it!”

So there you have it — that’s the last time Miyamoto upended the tea table!

We’ll have more articles from the Miyamoto interview on the site, hopefully later this week, but for now I just had to share that story.


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