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Japan Travel Tips – Real-Life Pokemon Centers May 11, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Japan Travel Tips, Uncategorized.

Tuesday’s here, and that means it’s time once again to share with you some more of our Japan Travel Tips, where we highlight some of the best independently produced travelogs from across the country. This is of course a gaming-focused website, but I felt that as a foreign tourist interested in visiting Japan for its glorious gaming history, it was important to share what I learned about traveling in the country before visiting the gaming sights for myself. Well, today we will be talking about gaming in a pretty big way.

Pokémon is the number one consumer property in the world, beating out Star Wars, Hello Kitty, and LEGO. The main brand of First-Party Pokémon goods is called the Pokémon Center, named after an essential location from the games where players can rest, heal their team and buy supplies. In Japan, Pokémon Center stores are all over the country. Pokémon Centers, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with them, are dedicated retail stores owned by The Pokémon Company for selling Pokémon merchandise of all kinds. In Japan they’re absolutely thriving, with locations all over the country, each with its own unique style and (in some cases) its own exclusive merchandise.

Pokémon Centers exist in most of Japan’s major cities including Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. A few years ago, YouTuber The Bell Tree took it upon themselves to visit them all. His method of traveling across Japan visiting Center to Center felt like a documentation of a real-life Pokémon Journey. Here’s what he found.

Since that video was produced, a new Pokémon Center opened in Tokyo, and has been dubbed Tokyo DX. I want to highlight the adorable Meivu for producing one of the best videos on YouTube that highlights the store.

For those of you wondering about that little café you saw connected to the Pokémon Center Tokyo DX, YouTuber Princess Peachie did this adorable video of her first trip to the Pokémon Café in Tokyo. Let’s take a closer look at her experience.

If these videos haven’t been enough information for you Pokémon Trainers, here’s some extra travel tips:

  • You don’t need to save this trip for last. Pokémon Centers exist in every major city of Japan, so if you happen to be near one while in a city you’re visiting, you’re going to want to check it out.
  • Each Pokémon Center could have its own exclusive merchandise only sold in that ONE store. If you are planning on traveling throughout the country it’s always a good idea to stop at the different Centers in each city to find something new.
  • Unless there’s a game or game console being sold that you can’t get in the US, don’t buy it. Nintendo still region locks their games, and you would need a Japanese Nintendo Switch to play any Switch games you purchased in Japan, and a Japanese 3DS to play any 3DS games purchased in Japan. UPDATE: Switch isn’t region locked, although the 3DS is.
  • Plushies have no region lock, buy all the plush you want (or can comfortably travel with).
  • It isn’t a bad idea to get pictures of some of the museum-quality displays in some of the larger Centers.
  • If you intend to eat or drink at a Pokémon Café, you MUST make a reservation. Otherwise the Café may not be able to accommodate you. However, traveling by yourself might make getting a reservation easier.
  • Pokémon Café also has exclusive merchandise that you can’t get in the Pokémon Center only available to patrons of the Café.

It’s also a good idea to keep tabs on any promotions the Pokémon Centers are doing. Some of them can be hard to find out in advance, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. Here’s a video about one such event, and what one person went through just to get…a free sticker. Nick Robinson, who has visited Japan for some of the most awesome reasons ever, tells the story of a time he went to Japan…for a sticker.

Before we wrap this up, I wanted to highlight one last perk about choosing to stay at a hotel near a Pokémon Center. Dorky Ever After had the chance to stay at a Pokémon-themed hotel room in Tokyo, not far from the Tokyo DX store. No idea if the room is still being offered, but here’s a look at it!

Previously, we’ve shared our thoughts on some great sights to take in while in Japan. Next time, we’re going to be highlighting a region of Japan certain fans of a very specific SEGA game will be familiar with. Stay tuned for that!

UPDATE: I’ve recently been informed the Nintendo Switch is NOT region locked, at least, for when it comes to physical media. I will do a new Japan Travel Tips as a penance for this incorrect information.


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