In contrast to their heyday, video game arcades in cities are turning into social hubs for the nation's elderly, replacing traditional community centers and day care facilities.

Experts say the trend reflects the fact that elderly people are increasingly bored with activities at traditional facilities, such as shogi chess and origami art, and are looking for new pastimes.

Kazuko Matsuo, 84, is one of them. "I'm usually here on days when I don't have to go to hospital," Matsuo said recently, as she skillfully played computer games at the Rakuichi Rakuza arcade in the city of Chikushino, Fukuoka Prefecture, which has more than 200 game machines. "I enjoy giving out the prizes I win to my neighbors."