Pikachu Invades Yokohama for City-Wide Pokémon Event

Trainer Amy here, reporting from Yokohama on the recent massive Pikachu outbreak in the Japanese port city. Trainer Jaime, a veteran trainer and photographer, predicted the outbreak and was on scene. “It was like I had stepped into a different dimension,” she said. “The experience was, quite simply, shocking.” The situation now seems to be under control, but Yokohama is still experiencing the effects of being overrun by the adorable electric Pokémon. Pastry chef Lauren, when asked about her recent research on Poképuffs in Yokohama, only replied, “There were so many of them and so much to do, I just couldn’t Pika-choose!” Be on alert for cardboard hat debris, sudden power surges, or an onset of symptoms of mania due to prolonged exposure to high levels of cute.

Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama!

Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama!

During the month of August, as part of a summer campaign for the recently released Pokémon the Movie XY, the Japanese city of Yokohama was transformed into a Pokémon paradise. I happened upon the event while it was in full swing and experienced the madness first hand, and am here to bring you all of the nerdy Pokéfan details.

Pikachu and Yokohama's famous Landmark Tower. Credit: Jaime Hirakawa

Pikachu and Yokohama’s famous Landmark Tower. Credit: Jaime Hirakawa

Imagine stepping into a shopping mall to do some weekend shopping when all of a sudden a grown man wearing a Pikachu shirt, hat, and tail greets you and hands you your very own Pikachu visor, a city guide map, and an exclusive Pokémon playing card and game piece. Well, that’s exactly what happened to my girlfriend and me when we went to scout out the Pokémon Center in Yokohama’s Landmark Tower. I ate it up like the Pokénerd I am of course, but not before whipping out my 3DS to snag my event Pikachu (which knows the HM move Surf). That’s right, be jealous.

The centerpiece of the Landmark Tower lobby: A giant Pikachu balloon filled with smaller Pikachu balloons.

The centerpiece of the Landmark Tower lobby: A giant Pikachu balloon filled with smaller Pikachu balloons. Credit: Jaime Hirakawa

This was only the beginning. After battling our way through the thoroughly packed Pokémon Center and passing through the “Pokémon Festival” (an indoor fair with games geared toward children), we worked our way outside, map in hand. We were soon greeted by the sight of Cosmo World, a small theme park on the water whose small attractions were dwarfed by the backdrop of the Cosmo Clock 21, a massive ferris wheel that doubles as the world’s largest clock.

Blowup Pikachus line the water near the Cosmo Clock Ferris Wheel.

Blowup Pikachu line the water near the Cosmo Clock Ferris Wheel. Credit: Jaime Hirakawa

After riding a Pikachu zeppelin ride like the five-year-olds we are, we hopped on the Cosmo Clock, whose carts and surrounding area had been decorated with Pikachu blowup figures, decals, and more. On a cuteness-induced high, we then skipped over to a small ship named the “Nippon Maru,” which may as well have been the USS Pikachu with all of its Pokémon flags and decor. As we boarded, we were met by Pikachu himself, trailed by a group of staff members and children. We said goodbye for the time being—but we would meet again before the day was out!

The Nippon Maru was decked out for the occasion. Look closely--who's that on deck?

The Nippon Maru was decked out for the occasion. Look closely–who’s that Pokémon?!

The famous Yokohama “Red Brick Warehouse” was the next stop on our map, where an artificial “Pikachu Beach Resort” had been constructed, along with a Pikachu-shaped bounce house, Pikachu car, and another small festival area. We participated in the Red Brick Warehouse scavenger hunt, in which participants had to find various locations in order to collect stamps to trade in for a prize. It was probably meant for children, but at that point, with our cardboard hats and stuffed Pikachu companion, it was a bit late for that to bother us. We completed the scavenger hunt in record time, and received event exclusive stickers as a reward (やったー!).

Fishing for Pikachu. Credit: Jaime Hirakawa

Fishing for Pikachu. Credit: Jaime Hirakawa

We ended our day by hitting up another location inside a department store marked on the map, and it was there that we met Pikachu—again! But this time we got a picture, which I proceeded to decorate with event-exclusive Line Camera app borders and stickers that I had downloaded a couple of hours prior (if you hadn’t noticed, Japan tends to go all out with this kind of thing).

めっちゃかわいい!

めっちゃかわいい!

By the end of the day, we were loaded down in free (and not so free) Pokémon merchandise, and were thoroughly Pikachu’d out. Our day in Yokohama goes to show how frighteningly effective Japanese advertising can be…or perhaps it only shows how shamelessly obsessed with Pokémon I am, but that’s beside the point. I actually witnessed more adults with stuffed Pikachus on their shoulders than I did children, which is likely why such events in Japan are so successful. Because who doesn’t like cute things?

This, kids, is how Japanese children are actually born! But seriously--whose idea was this?! Photo credit: Jaime Hirakawa

This, kids, is how Japanese children are actually born. But seriously–whose idea was this? Credit: Jaime Hirakawa

Do you think such an expansive advertisement method would be effective in the United States or elsewhere in the world? Did you attend the Yokohama event, or have you attended a similar event in the past? Share your thoughts and experiences below!

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