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Japan's Tōhoku Region Gets Pokémon Go Lapras Event

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

Pokėmon Go held its very first in-game event from October 26 to November 1. The global event marked Halloween and offered increased encounters for spooky Pokėmon such as Gastly, Haunter, and Cubone. While that event was global, and The Pokémon Company announced it in advance, the augmented reality app unveiled a sudden surprise on Friday for trainers in Japan.

The app's official Japanese Twitter account announced that certain areas of Japan's northeastern Tōhoku region now have increased encounters of Lapras, a rare and coveted Pokėmon in the game. Coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures will have an increased number of Lapras until November 23.

Fans already tweeted screenshots from a Pokėmon Go monster tracking app to confirm the event.

This Tōhoku-exclusive event is bound to spark jealousy in fans in other areas of Japan and around the world. (As of this article's posting, this writer has yet to encounter a single Lapras in the wild....) However, the event will likely bring needed tourism to the areas affected most by the earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 2011. In fact, that was probably game developer Niantic Labs' goal with the in-game event.

Niantic Labs and the local governments of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Kumamoto Prefectures announced in August that they would launch a collaboration project to spur tourism. Miyagi Prefecture also announced in August that it was setting aside 30 million yen (US$290,144) in its annual budget for Pokėmon Go-related expenses. The prefecture determined that advertising PokėStops and Pokėmon-catching opportunities would bring visitors, and it decided to provide public spaces to play and booths to sell goods from the other prefectures including Kumamoto (a Kyushu area badly damaged by earthquakes this year).

With Japan as the birthplace and home of Pokėmon, it is fitting that the country receives the first of Pokėmon Go's non-holiday events. Maybe other coastal areas worldwide will receive similar events soon after Niantic Labs weighs the results of this one.

For now, local players who are diligent and stay safe while playing can enjoy the limited bonus. But as coastal areas can be dangerous and prone to strong weather, Lapras hunters would be wise to exercise due caution. One fan tweeted, "I think it would be better not to make (Lapras) appear in typhoons or stormy weather near the coasts. It's dangerous."

Source: The Japan Times (Shinya Ajima)

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