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Event Report: Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama

posted on by Kim Morrissy

I'd seen the memes on social media, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer goofiness that is the Pikachu Outbreak event at Yokohama. My most vivid memory of the entire thing involves giant Pikachus in Hawaiian shirts dancing around on a stage while the entire audience got splashed with water guns. As I staggered away from this event, drenched from head to toe, a staff member grinned at me and said, “Nice! You look like a drowned rat!”

It surprises me just how thoroughly Yokohama transforms for the Pikachu parade every year. Pikachu banners line the streets, which are crowded with tourists decked out in bright yellow visors. The electric mouse proliferates every corner of the shopping malls and train stations too, and even unrelated shops get in on the act. I spotted an ice cream store dangling Pikachus from the ceiling a clothing store that put a Pikachu visor on one of their dummies. Everywhere you look, there's Pikachu.

This year was even more extravagant than previous years because it doubled as a Pokémon Go event. “Pokémon Go Parks” were set up in the Red Brick Warehouse Park and the Cup Noodle Museum Park, where visitors could catch rare Pokémon. Lucky lottery winners could also participate in an invitation-only Mewtwo raid, allowing them to be the very first Pokémon Go users to catch the Pokémon for themselves.

Most players couldn't catch Mewtwo, but it didn't seem as if they minded. Much of the fun of the event came from just walking around and absorbing the sights. The Minatomirai area is a popular tourist spot in its own right with some beautiful scenery, making the Pokémon Go event an excellent excuse to take a walk around the Yokohama Bay.

As you'd expect from an event like this, there were plenty of families and young adults eager to catch Pokémon, but there were a surprising number of older folk playing the app as well. If there's one game that can leap across every cultural and generational gap imaginable, it's Pokémon.

The Yohokama Bay is quite a large area, and there were plenty of stage events around the city to occupy one's attention for an entire day. The parade is definitely the highlight, and fortunately the official Japanese Pokémon page live-streamed the event for fans all over the world.

The entire atmosphere of Yokohama is something special. Even the most casual of Pokefans will definitely get a kick out of this.

Additional photography: Ernest Lin

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