Game sites from all over the web spit about how great game stores are in Japan. Photos of unpopulated isles and rarities make them seem like heaven. Of course they would to anyone who hasn't actually been there or been educated otherwise! The thing I'm always wondering when I read what these Japan nerd guys write is if they've even been to other game stores in other areas. Save Osaka, I've been to game stores all over Japan throughout my travels (from the city to remote areas), and I believe it gave me great knowledge of them. To non-Japanese, Japanese game stores can be almost as disappointing as Japanese arcades. What Japanese game stores have in common with Japanese arcades is that both are talked-up beyond their underwhelming real-life existence. What Japanese people may accept and be used to shatters the positive, heavenly image that the web and mass media have created for them. Japanese game stores really aren't all they're cracked-up to be.
The Grass Is Always Greener...
It'd be different if great stock was always a tradeoff, but it's not.
Not that I didn't find some gems, but stock is not as great as it seems in most places. Like Japanese arcades, most Japanese game stores sell the same glut of shit, and the places that actually do sell the good stuff are horrendously small and/or out-of-the-way. They literally have games from the ceiling to the floor, but it's so crowded that there's no space even to bend down to see them. What a waste. Show up early and you might have a few minutes to hurry and check on all the things you wanted, but it's unlikely you'll finish even a short list. What use is the place if they got all this shit to buy, but you can't even bend down to get it? And that's if you can even get to the game at all; sometimes there are just too many people jammed in the aisles. There is no fucking space, and it will grate on the nerves of non-Japanese in no-time.
...On The Other Side
One of the worst things about it is how these places are so small with little to no ventilation. Non-Japanese from places where this is not the norm cannot imagine how much it sucks. People in general smell like shit, and since these places are hot and small as fuck, the humidity locks-in all the stank and it gets straight musty. Again, to Japanese people, this may be commonplace, but the average non-Japanese will go in and be like, "damn, this place wreaks!" And it's not just one smell, either, it's a plethora of odors; shit, piss, cum, sweat, hair, vomit, alcohol. Dudes will come up to you all close bumping elbows and shit, stinking to high hell, and escaping comes down to luck because these place are so ridiculously small and crowded. Then you got the complete lack of consideration, which makes it all even worse.

No Pot Of Gold
Did I get some cool shit from some of these stores while I was there? Yes, but nothing I couldn't have just gotten from a trusted importer online. Just stay in your home country and order the stuff online; it's a lot less stressful, and it will definitely smell better. Even if you can't find something online, it doesn't mean you will find it by going there to get it. Some things will not be found; even in searches I conducted from region-to-region over several years turned up none of my most sought-after gems (Double Dragon for PS, the official Sony PS2 Gundam: AEUG VS Titans Memory Card, Capcom DreamCast Matching Service titles, and/or the S.T.A.R.S. Resident Evil DreamCast, to name a few). Shopping online definitely gives me something no Japanese game store can offer: peace of mind. It's priceless, and it keeps me out of jail. While there are some exceptions, they're pretty far and out of the way. Not sure if they exist in other areas, but a "variety store" called Mandai Shoten in Yamanashi prefecture is arguably one of the best. Not only do these guys stock a ton of rare games and consoles, but a bunch of other stuff like books and clothes. The best thing about this store, though, is that you can actually move. The aisles are big for Japanese standards, and that's what matters most. I've never really seen one crowded because the places are so big. They're nothing like "Donkey Hoetay," where the whole place is a crowded fucking mess. That was in 2010, and I doubt it's changed much (if any) since then...