Dobuita Exists!

June 1, 2012


From the moment I stepped off the express train I was excited. It was time to see what the game Shenmue looked like in real life. And by Shenmue I really mean Dobuita, the shop filled street I’ve walked numerous times (virtually) via the Sega Dreamcast. Luckily the train station only had one exit/entrance so it was easy to find my friend Ko.

We immediately began walking and talking about the history of Yakosuka. It’s home to a huge US military base, which has a big influence on the area. My first real example of this was our first stop. There is a place in the game called “Funny Bear Burger” but it’s actually a real burger spot named “Honey Bee”. We sat down for a drink in Honey Bee and Ko began to tell me how he frequented the base often as a child and even learned some English there. The Honey Bee (which called itself an American Diner) has been in Yokosuka almost as long as the base. They serve only American food and play American music. If I still ate beef maybe I would have tried one of their burgers.

Once done with our drinks, we continued walking and suddenly I no longer felt like I was in Japan. Seeing so many Americans was very strange. There were Americans everywhere and I thought I would hear English before Japanese at one point. However, before we knew it we were at the foot of Dobuita street and none of that mattered.

The street was narrow just like it was portrayed in the game. I saw the army supply store right where it should be. It was quite a surreal experience. As we kept walking we saw the parking lot where the main character of Shemnue, Ryo would practice his martial art techniques. Many of the shops I wanted to see were now either replaced or just closed down, like the Game Room where Ryo would go to play the Sega game Hang On. But a very important part of the landscape does remain, the pathway to Ryo’s home. I walked up the steep hill leading to his residence with a shrine off to the side just like in the game. It was a great feeling. However, in reality where the house should stand was only a hospital.

All in all I had a great trip. Ko told me that in the evening Dobuita is filled with soldiers influenced by liquor looking for some fun, and Military Police to keep them in check. No day is the same in Yokosuka, especially when the sun goes down. Looking at some of the remaining structures in Yokosuka I could see why modernization is taking place. The steel beams used for construction in the past have plenty of rust and have become eyesores. However, the memories of these old establishments are priceless. I am happy to have experienced this city before I can no longer recognize it.

Thanks to Ko for being a great guide and host. Also, thanks to Sega for creating a great game like Shenmue.