Poké-maniacs will find their dreamworld come true at Japan's official Pokémon Centers.
“I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was…” You know the rest. And now you have the chance to become a Pokémon master at one of just 11 official retail and event spaces in Japan (and only 15 worldwide) dubbed Pokémon Centers.
From the chilly north in Sapporo to the lively southern city of Fukuoka, you can always rely on a Pokémon Center to act as your Nurse Joy in times of need. The regular seasonal turnovers mean every visit will yield new products, not to mention that each Pokémon Center has their own unique goods. Take the newest store, based in the Tokyo Skytree, which has a fantastic selection of Skytree-themed Pikachus.
The question is which will you choose? Here’s a rundown of the major three to get you started.
Pokemon Center MEGA TOKYO
Located in Ikebukuro’s sprawling Sunshine City mall, this Tokyo Pokémon Center is the biggest in the world. While you’re probably imagining the amazing amount of Pokémon merchandise it must have, it’s worth noting that this Center hosts regular Pokémon events too. Want to hug and take pictures with a giant Pikachu? Multiple Pikachus? You’re in luck! There ‘s also a wide range of arcade-style Pokémon games and a wall of gatchapon machines (put your money in and receive a randomly selected Pokémon phone charm for example).
Pokemon Center Kyoto
Kyoto is synonymous with tradition and the Pokémon Center here has themed itself around this. Pikachus in Heian period costumes (794 – 1185, when Kyoto was the capital of Japan) and kimonos can be purchased here. These adorable little plushies are limited edition available only in the Kyoto Center, located on the 5th floor of the Takashimaya Department Store in Kawaramachi.
Pokemon EXPOGYM Osaka
Another Kansai Center has stolen our hearts (and our wallets) as the first Pokemon Gym in Japan. The EXPOGYM is a huge complex dedicated to the Pokemon franchise which also includes a store to rival the Tokyo branch, plus a themed cafe. The Gym has two floors full of pay-to-play interactive games. These come in a variety of forms but all of them involve audience participation. At Zoroark’s Slick Dojo the audience must follow and copy the moves shown on the screen with individual players picked out from the crowd to learn and perform special moves. There are also dance shows and a boxing game where you have to follow onscreen instructions while battling your opponent. What better way to work up a sweat and smash your exercise quota?