Playing Pokemon GO in Japan

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The day that Pokemon GO came out in Japan was the day that would unite people from all of the world in an epic and nostalgic journey to  catch ’em all in the land of the rising sun.  Due to server capacity issues, the app didn’t officially become playable in Japan for nearly 2 weeks after the US launch.  It was devastating to watch all of my friends back home catching Pokemon in their backyards while my trainer was stuck in a barren wasteland lacking any PokeStop or Pokemon.  However, the long wait was ever so worth the hype all of us experienced when the servers finally did go up!

I still remember that day.  I was working at CyberStep and around 12:00 (which was fortunately around the time of my lunch break), everyone started excitedly whispering while low key using their cellphones as a radar to see what Pokemon were nearby.  As soon as lunch started I quickly grabbed my phone and ran outside around the company HQ to see what was there.  Bulbasaur, Pinsir, Weedle, Caterpie, and many Pokemon were lurking in the grass.  I felt connected with my childhood self as I walked around caught Pokemon from the game that consumed most of my childhood.  But that was only the beginning.  Because over the weekend I traveled to all of the major wards of Tokyo including Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Roppongi, Shibuya, Nakano, and Odaiba to catch them as pictured below!

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Pokemon GO is that it helps you discover sights you may have never noticed before–like the giant Super Mario Pipe in Ikebukuro!  Of course the first place I went to was the Mega Pokemon Center in Sunshine City.  It felt surreal seeing a Squirtle spawn on top of the Charizard statue and in my tomato ramen!  An onbon Pikachu was also at the front of the store greeting customers and being interviewed by one of the staff.  Pika pi~ Odaiba had a giant inflatable Pikachu bounce for kids and a bunch of cardboard cutouts for photo ops.  Even the remote areas of the beach were swarming with Pokemon (Slowpoke quite fancied my friend Sophie)!  And similar to the nightlife in Roppongi, all of the PokeStops were lured.

Though the popularity of the app has died down a bit, I still commonly see people playing it on the trains and around some of the parks of Tokyo.  It’s extremely fun to discover the hidden gems of your favorite places while becoming a Pokemon Master in the process!

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