When Daigo Umehara was 13, the then-future Street Fighter champion got beat up by a rival player for being too good. Now, decades later, Umehara has tracked down the arcade where it went down, thanks to the magic of Google Maps.
As Kotaku previously reported, Umehara recounted the story at the NHK Culture Centre in Tokyo. He told how badly beating an adult in Street Fighter resulted in his getting punched in the face, knocking him out of his chair and leaving the young Umehara bloodied and swollen.
The incident deeply affected Umehara. He started going to a different arcade, but continued to think about what happened. He couldn’t sleep at night because he was so angry. He was no longer upset about the guy who slugged him, but rather he was angry that he didn’t fight back, resigned to being a human punching bag. He blamed himself for being a coward.
Umehara finally decided to go back to the arcade with his head held high. He recalled how the small, one-story arcade was different from typical joints. It didn’t have an automatic glass door — instead, it had this old door that you needed to pull open, which then would reveal who was inside. Umehara worried that the bully would be there, but realised that chickening out could impact the rest of his life. The goon wasn’t in the arcade, and mustering the courage to go through that door did give Umehara a sense of closure, courage, and the ability to move forward and, in his opinion, eventually become a pro gamer.
Website Event Hubs points out that during a recent livestream Umehara found the arcade on Google Maps. YouTuber FGC Translated uploaded a clip, which features footage from his earlier speech about the incident for context.
Just as Umehara recalled, the arcade was tiny. It didn’t look like your typical Japanese game centre, with the usual inviting first floor filled with crane games.
“The door is the same,” Umehara said as he clicked through Google Maps. “It’s just like I said — that the door was like the door at a restaurant.”
Umehara didn’t think it was an arcade any more, and in his original talk he mentioned how the arcade shut down a couple times after he started going there again. The door, which was so instrumental in his story and to him as a person, is still there.
The fighting game champ recalled how when he went to that arcade, he was always getting into trouble with hoodlums. But now, years later, he realises the inevitability of this, saying the door itself was the root of all that trouble. “As an adult, I understand why,” said Umehara, adding that it looked like crimes would be committed behind that door.
If you were walking down the street, you’d pass right by that nondescript brown door. It’s completely unremarkable looking. But it has to be the most important door in Japanese fighting game history.