14:31 APRIL 7 2030

JUNE 21 2030


This city is the capital of Japan. Within a 45km radius of the Imperial Palace live 50 million people. In so big a city, the real centre is difficult to define. Tokyo really has many centres, each with its own flavour. The surrounding towns and cities have become dormitory towns for commuting workers. The city fronts Tokyo Bay, opening out onto the Pacific Ocean on the east. On the cities northern approaches lies the fertile Kanto Plain. Almost a part of the vast Tokyo metropolis are the cities of Chiba and Yokohama. In ZAIBATSU Tokyo is considered to be the entire Tokyo Bay area with these three cities all important. We briefly look at the activities (legal and illegal) of all three centres, from Chiba's black clinics to the Triads of Yokohama's bustling chinatown.

The "zaibatsu belt" of corporate dominated suburban towns house much of the corporate population who commute into Tokyo daily or do their work via cyberspace. A typical dorm town will have several vast arcologies or cityblocks. These arcologies have accomodation flats, restaurants, theatres, schools etc. Imagine a multilevel shopping arcade with flats around the periphery, a multiplex, covered park and college. They are self-contained communities for a zaibatsu's employees. The high-rank sararimen live in the upper penthouses, the lowliest workers in amongst the underground car parks, subway links and ground level entrances. Travel within arcologies is done via stairs, lifts, escalators, slidewalks and electric trikes or buggies. The main dormitory towns are: Funabashi, Matsudo, Kawaguchi, Mitaka, Meguro, Shinagawa and Kawasaki.



A traditional geisha district, even in 2030 it is still possible to see rickshaws carrying their gorgeously dressed high-priced hostesses through the streets in the early evening. Akasaka is also home to Tokyo's most exclusive (and also expensive) nightclubs. Many affluent Chinese have moved here during and after the troubles in Hong Kong. Chinese businesses thrive in Akasaka. Many clubs, shows and restaurants.


This is Japan's hottest place for discount bargains on electrical and electronic appliances. Stores, stalls, markets and department stores all sell bargain electronics. Computers, cyberdecks and software can be bought here. Stolen software or zaibatsu tech often emerges here. The district is a magnet for cyberspace cowboys and street-techs.


There are plenty of ancient houses and souvenir shops littering Asakusa, one of the oldest parts of Tokyo. This area was once the most thriving place in Tokyo with its theaters and other amusement spots, but it is very outdated today. But still the famous (1350 year-old) Sensoji Temple is filled with visitors from all over Japan. The temple is usually very crowded during the many festivals and fairs held in its precincts. The approach to the temple is along Nakamise Dori Avenue, a narrow stone-flagged street that is lined with over a hundred tiny open-front souvenir shops and stores selling traditional Japanese items and paraphenalia. At its start is the Kamarimon (Thunder) Gate flanked by two giant wooden guardian Diva Kings. Behind the temple is the Asakusa Shrine, home to the colourful Sanja Festival. This really is 'Old Tokyo'. But Asakusa is also Tokyo's downside. The Sumida River Industrial Complex has pushed out all but the poorest Tokyoites to create a "no-go" area. Asakusa is mild compared to the Bronx Jungle (New York) and Tower Hamlets Enterprise Zone (London), and seems to exist parasitically off of Ueno Station and the people arriving there from the north. Cheap hotels, gangs, drugs, seedy businesses and alot of exploitation and unemployment await the newcomer. Crime is rife here.

Asakusa is also known as Tokyo's 'Night City', or in Japanese, 'Yorumachi'. With the rail line from Narita and Chiba terminating at Ryogoku station just over the river in the ward of Sumida, business in smuggled and stolen technologies is rife. Asakusa forms a narrow borderland of vastly ancient streets and lanes. By day the bars and clubs are dead, shuttered and featureless. The never-ending dance of illegal 'biz' continues when the darkness is slowly lit-up by the neon and bright flashing adverts, and accompanied by the thunder of noise from arcades and pachinko parlours. Bars, clubs, strip-shows, brothels, gambling joints and coffee shops all play host to the shadowy side of life here. The hustle. The scam. Lies, deceit and profit.

Yorumachi, Night-City, Asakusa, the same name for the same fast-forward dance of profit and survival. Bosatsu made the rounds, checked his contacts. Had anybody seem anything of Kiroshi? How had he disappeared into thin air between Asakusabasi station and his pickup team of hardened street samurai? He nodded to Alpha, no luck. He passed ¥2000 to Mako, the cabbie. Hah! So... Kiroshi took a cab straight to Tokahara's place at the Oasis? Ever more intriguing.


Chiba is an new business centre. It has a thriving port and behind it a vast area of factory domes and attendant corporate arcologies. But the most exciting aspect of Chiba are the cutting edge clinics, hospitals and medical research facilities. The best surgeons, geneticists, cyberneticists and plastic surgeons are all here with the finest equipment and facilities. Most of Makita's and Haruna's most prosperous medical facilities are on the outskirts of Chiba. But the wealth has created a black market centred in Ninsei (close to Shiga and Baiitsu), caught between the port and the corporate zones. Here deals and double-deals keep an entire black market of smuggling, theft and drug abuse alive. Pharmaceuticals from the clinics and labs finds its way onto the Street and up for sale - to be shipped out across the globe. Experimental products fetch the highest prices. Things like hormones, recombinent protein mixes, hormone triggers, pituitaries and synthetic glandular extracts are all marketable comodities. Most of this stuff (and the mules who hump it) ends up in Asakusa up for sale on the Tokyo market.


Tokyo Docks are vast and made up of piers, wharfs, wharehousing complexes, factories and industrial estates. Much of it is fenced off and in a perpetual arc-light daytime. People live there too, but the housing complexes are fairly run-down and "undesirable". Generally, people have moved out, and light industry, warehousing and businesses have moved in.


Ginza is Japan's most (in)famous shopping district, with highly respected and long established department stores and shopping buildings. Center of the Ginza is Chuo-dori street, running from northeast to southwest, and this is lined with the big department stores, major shopping malls and restaurants. Harumi-dori leads to the Kabukiza Theater, and further to Tsukiji on Tokyo Bay, famous for its huge fresh fish market, and to Yurakucho and Hibaya in the opposite direction. Ginza is a rich district filled with little sidestreets and fringed by all kinds of speciality shops, restaurants and coffee shops, bars and night clubs, often exclusive and expensive. The early evening has the feel of a fashion parade as beautifully dressed geisha walk to work, many of them in kimono. Ginza is home to the globe's most exclusive shops. Ginza oozes style and class with its posh restaurants and night clubs, art galleries and fashionable little eating places. The closest thing Tokyo has to a 'Fifth Avenue'.


Harajuku's central feature is Omote-sando, a wide boulevard edged with restaurants, attractive coffee shops, little boutiques and interesting speciality shops. Omote-sando leads up to the Meiji Shrine, and not far away are the Ukiyoe Ota Memorial Museum of Art and the Togo Shrine antique market (held on 1st & 4th Sundays of the month). The approaches to the shrine have become the scene on Sundays for street dancing by crowds of teenagers dressed in 1950's, 1960's and 1970's styles. There are coffee shops and chic fashion boutiques in Harajaku. It is the place for the young and trendy Tokyoites to hang-out. Clubs and restaurants all reflect this 'fast-fashion' attitude. If its 'in' its in Harajuku. It is a place of cultured amusement. A little like a popular Paris boulevard with street cafes and the spectator sport of cruising.


This district once became a new subcenter of Tokyo after the expensive Sunshine City development appeared to the east of Ikebukuro Station. The zaibatsu TKS owns and operates Sunshine City, the development is dominated by the 120-storey Sunshine 120 Pyramid. The fastest elevator in the world zooms up to the 120th-floor observatory in only 35 seconds. There is an aquarium, a theater and the Orient Museum within the Sunshine City compound. It is a gateway to Tokyo's northwestern suburbs, Ikebukuro is served by suburban railway lines as well as metropolitan subway lines to central Tokyo, and these are often crowded with commuters. Ikebukuro has its own 'feel', its own restaurants and shopping and its own bars and eating places. It has a large zaibatsu population, and so is a little staid. The arcologies built here over the past twenty years cater for much of the areas needs - so Ikebukuro has not a great deal to offer those from more exciting parts of the city. The firm Shinobizawa has its corporate HQ here, this is a vast fuller dome that handles all its administration, marketing and purchasing, and there are several production sub-domes that lead off from this main dome.


Beyond the Marunouchi district, is the Imperial Palace, and it is where the Imperial family resided. It covers 100 hectares and is fully enclosed under a transparant Fuller dome to protect it. Its impressive watchtowers and massive stone walls still survive in 2030. The Palace Plaza, East Garden and Kitanomaru Park are all major attractions. The wide and open Plaza, with its Double Bridge or the Nijubashi, is an haven for sararimen and young couples. A memorial fountain exists there, and was built to commemorate the marriage of the Crown Prince and Princess. Next to the Palace Plaza is Hibaya Park, a beautiful park, in style partly Japanese and partly Western. The Hibaya Public Hall and Library are in its enclosure. The nearby Hibaya district is the "Broadway of Tokyo", jammed with of cinemas and theatres.


This is Japan's administrative center. Government ministry and agency buildings cluster here, south of the Imperial Palace. The Japanese parliament meets at the towering National Diet Building which overlooks the district. Tokyo police are very visible here.


This district is between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace, and is the city's zaibatsu nerve centre, or business centre. Tall buildings standing row upon row contain the headquarters of the leading banks and zaibatsu. The police also keep this district under close scrutiny for the protection of the zaibatsu personnel.


The Hong Kong repressions in 2011 created many refugees and the close proximity of Japan made it an ideal destination. However, Japan is not keen on admitting hundreds of thousands of these war victims, so they float in Tokyo Bay. Junks, sampans, old ferries, fishing boats, barges and coastal freighters are the home for this vast, poverty stricken population. The government cannot get rid of "New Honk" and it sits in the Bay, an eyesore and a danger. Cooking fires create thick oily smoke, refuse floats obscenely around the boats. Many New Honkers work illegally in Tokyo doing low-paid, often criminal work. They are a despised underclass.


Ochanomizu, on the Japanese Rail (JR) Chuo Line, is the college district of Tokyo. A few minutes walk downhill from the station is the atmospheric Jimbocho section filled with hundreds of bookstores. Shelves of Japanese and foreign books including second-hand ones are for sale. This quarter also boasts the Tokyo Komingu Kottokan building, containing more than 50 antique shops, and the Nicolaido, an out-of place Russian Orthodox cathedral (built 1884). On the other side of the station stands the Yushima Seido Temple and the Kanda Myojin Shrine. There are plenty of universities in Tokyo, the largest, Tokyo, is west of Ueno Park. Others include the Meiji, Nihon, Medical & Dental, Hosei, Keio, Waseda, Rikkyo and Gakushuin Universities. There is an informal, decadent and underground feel to life here, due to the student and ex-student population. Music, cults, gangs, clubs and flats cater to this young population.


This man-made island was proposed as part of the Tokyo Cosmopolis Project in the 1990s. Today 250,000 people live on the island and work within its prosperous economy. There are zaibatsu industrial facilities, research complexes and cultural centres for the population. The island is a zaibatsu haven with little interference from Tokyo government. With its own hoverport the island is a microcosm of Japan's technological and economic might. Most of the zaibatsu have facilities here and there are many workers who commute by hovercraft from places around the bay. There is also a bridge which connects Project Island to the eastern docks.


This is an entertainment district with a sophisticated and exciting atmosphere. Roppongi's nightlife picks up at around 11pm. There are literally hundreds of coffee shops, bars, pubs and restaurants - from cheap to moderately priced. Tokyo's most fashionable nightclubs are here. The famous Black Rain club in Roppongi was the scene in 2023 of the infamous Yakuza rocket attack that killed 11 and wounded 14. There are clubs and discos with the best music and DJs, and plenty of live music. Bands from across Japan play here to be heard and appreciated. Foreigners (gaijin) prefer the clubs in Roppongi and are catered for. The best restaurants and night life are here. Very cosmopolitan. In nearby Shiba Park stands the famous Tokyo Tower, a vast Eiffel-tower-like broadcast mast 333m high on a knoll. It has two spectacular observation decks.


This is an action-packed amusement and shopping district, and is always crowded with youths day and night. Koen-dori Street is filled with colourful shopping complexes all boasting the latest fashions. The old Olympic Stadium and the Meji Shrine lie beyond Koen-dori. Close by is the NHK Broadcast Center, the Japanese radio and TV corporation. Also in Shibuya is the KDD building, KDD is the leading communications zaibatsu. Shibuya is high profile home of the media industry. Celebrities are seen here (and also many tourists) and the district has many connections with the industry. Alot of money moves around Shibuya, wealth is conspicuous. There are cool fashion stores, restaurants, bars and hang-outs. There's always the chance of seeing some new video or sim-stim star. There are numerous cinemas, holodomes and simstim parlours. Tokyo's Hollywood and Rodeo Drive.


This is another one of Tokyo's major shopping and amusement districts. It is also an important transportation centre, served by the suburban railways of Keio, Seibu and Odakyu, and two subway lines as well as JR. To the west of busy Shinjuku Station is the impressive skyscraper district, Tokyo's second skyline. Some of these buildings are hotels, others are corporate buildings with underground shopping arcades, and restaurants on the upper floors with marvelous views. East of the station, however, is Kabukicho, an ancient "entertainment" section where rich and poor, tourist and criminals mix. The area is packed with an array of drinking places and entertainment venues. However, Kabukicho includes bars and clubs that are seriously seedy: Tokyo's worst places are here in Kabukicho. The Yakuza control the area with (quite literally) a vice-like grip. Kabukicho is full of drug-houses, brothels, gambling joints. gang haunts, strip clubs, simstim clubs; whatever pays well and is border or extralegal. Tokyo's Soho.


Part of the surviving old Tokyo. Famous for its parkland and cultural buildings such as the Science, National and Art Museums. At the south end of Shinobazu Pond in the park is a museum of folklore that uses recreated buildings to show what Medieval Tokyo used to looked like. The park is also famous for cherry blossoms in season. Parties of families and friends as well as zaibatsu employee groups hold cherry blossom viewing picnics (sometimes at night). JR Ueno Station is the terminal of long-distance trains to the north. Around the station is another Tokyo shopping and entertainment district which includes the Ameyoko Market . A wide range of cheap goods are available, from foreign items, jewelry, food, watches, clothes, shoes, and electronics. During the spring exam season, the Yushima Tenjin Shrine is packed with students praying for success. Tradition is for sale here, or to look at for free. Tourism thrives, there are souvenir shops and all manner of 'traditional' Japanese delights for sale.


This is a city, the most important port in Japan with vast docks, portside facilkities, , harbours, wharves and refinaries. As an immigrant city, it also has the biggest chinatown - Chukagai. The Triads here are very powerful and constantly war with the local Yakuza for power. Chukagai lies on the river Nakamura near the harbour. Also in Yokohama is a lavish Silk Museum and Yamashita Park, which has a good view of the port. At the end of the park is Marine Tower, with its viewing platform. The landscaped Sankei-en Garden is the main sight of the city and has villas, pavillions and gardens within gardens. Also at Yokohama is the spaceport, with its 9km long runway designed in the 1990s to take shuttles, spaceplanes and supersonic transports.


Imagine pools of neon fire, canyons of glass and moving video imagery. Imagine brightly-lit adverts, flashing Japanese signs, strobe lights, hover cars, sirens, and people. Lots of people. Tokyo should be a warren of streets, arcades, connecting passages, glass lifts, plazas, balconies, walkways and tunnels, every type of architecture is around. The referee should constantly bombard the PCs with sights and sounds, places and people. The heroes aren't the only ones in the city. It wouldn't be a city otherwise. Put people everywhere. Out in public, they should almost never be alone - almost. There are times when the city subsides. But rarely; things are always happening, whether the players do something or not. Keep the pace fast and furious, give the players lots of description - let them try and work out what's a threat and what isn't. Make them feel claustrophobic, paranoid and scared.

Use these ideas for in-play description and atmosphere:

Smoke-stacks, smoke & mist

Building of solid light

Orange or red sky

Pipes across street

Cranes, ships

Flags on motorbikes

Running "casino" lights

Trucks with banks of lights

Cups without handles

Draught Kirin beer, Sapporo beer

Eating noodles/bento

Fans, light shining thru them

Bonsai in clubs

Window blinds, light shining thru them

Blue neon and glass

Gantries & dry ice

Clothes lines/flags


Panelled mirror walls

Puddles of oil & water

Pulldown security fence

Revolving litup adverts on pillars

Sewage overflow, frothy

Towers of stacked TVs

Street cleaner robot

Rainwashed floor tiles

Bikes everywhere


Overhead railway

Workers on bikes

Arc welding spray

Steam, flashing warning lights

Piped music in halls/malls

Constant sheets of rain

ZAIBATSU is an action-orientated game, full of furious gunfights, chases and explosions. There are three basic ways to give your game of ZAIBATSU a real cinematic kick. Firstly forget about ammo. How many times do you see Jackie Chan or Stallone reloading their guns? Do you get the idea? Any agent packing a gun should be assumed to be carrying an adequate amount of ammo along as well. More can be scrounged if needed. On a "fumble" roll then the agent's ammo will be depleted.

Secondly, try to begin the game with action when that is at all possible. There are few action-orientated movies, where the detailed briefing and travel to the adventure location occurs on screen. More often its over before the opening credits begin to roll. Begin with something like: "You've been staking out a street dealer's flat for a week now, hoping he will lead you to his zaibatsu contact, when suddenly you see three tough looking samurai hanging around outside as well. What do you do?" Start the game as close to the action as possible without making important decisions for the players, or robbing them of valuable time.

Thirdly, have a go at breaking up the scenario into several action-orientated scenes, that can be linked together by clues and a background story. I recommend compressing the ZAIBATSU game into a single evening with only two major scenes - an opening scene and a finale. These scenes mimic the memorable parts of a film, the big battles and the powerful confrontations, most of the rest of an action film is connective filler used to get the heroes from one scene to the next (Remember the explosive finale in Speed, or the factory scene in "Terminator"?). Begin thinking of memorable and action-orientated locations for your scenes, and come up with a list of cool things that could happen there. Steel foundries, railway bridges, subway stations, skyscraper roofs, TV studios, building sites ... if you think of the films that you've seen you'll soon get the idea. Accidents, deadly implements, traps and obstacles, crowds of bystanders, escape routes and improvised weaponry might exist there, use them! Movie producers are well aware that the use of famous locations is very atmospheric, and you can use the Tokyo Tower, the National Diet (government) building, the Imperial Palace or the Tokyo railway station. Don't shy away from using these types of landmark buildings as locations for your action scenes.

Obviously, to keep the plot moving, the opening scene needs to leave questions unanswered, and clues to be followed up on. Why did that last samurai kill himself before the players could interrogate him? Why was the dealer strung up and cut open in his flat? What do the cyberspace messages mean on the dealer's computer, and who sent them? The best finales are fiery, spectacular and usually more interesting than the opening ones. They should build on the tension, and the stakes. Stack up the stress, the melodrama, and all the risks you can think of. Deadlines are cool, big explosions are even cooler ! How many Schwarzenegger or Bond movies end with both of these plot devices?! Give your players three or more things to worry about simultaneously, ensuring they never forget that finale !


William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer centred all of his first Japanese section in a tiny subsection of Chiba called Ninsei: and nicknamed it 'Night City'. It was where the underworld surfaced, where 'biz' was conducted, where the corporations met the street. Nightclubs, bars, gangs and the constant presence of paranoia and doom pervaded the place. Tokyo is the biggest city on earth and referees are advised to use the same trick. Our Night City is in Asakusa, the old heart of traditional Tokyo crammed full of sleazy bars, strip shows and brothels. Add to this a refugee population coming in from the north from Ueno Station and the corporate secrets coming out of Chiba further along the rail-line, and you have the perfect hotbed for danger, intrigue and atmosphere. ZAIBATSU has already fleshed out this district with some detail and described some of the chunin and their busineses there, the referee should feel free to go further. He can expand on these or place his own creations here. Try and give the players the chance to really get to know these streets, bars and clubs, something very difficult to do when using the whole of Tokyo as your backdrop.