#75: Drop in at a Pokémon Center!
Even though some of us are getting to an age where we’re feeling ashamed to admit it, we all loved Pokémon at some euphoric part of our childhood or another. There were the figures you could trade in the playground at primary (I had a Hitmonlee, a Vaporeon and a Jolteon– two of which I still have today!), there were the Gameboy games, which at that time were a status symbol– if you had a Gameboy, you knew you were pretty awesome. Unfortunately my father refused to let me play video games until I was a little older, so I had to merely watch, but even watching someone else play made you feel awesome. There were the books, there was the TV show that you rushed home to watch as if your life depended on it.
For my generation, Pokémon was in its prime, and for many of us, the love still hasn’t died. Just last year I played through Pokémon Platinum and loved it– just as I remembered. The nostalgia. Pokémon will always be cool.
So, I’d heard a bit about Pokémon Centers in Japan and thought that it would be definitely worth a look, especially since it was very close to a train stop and therefore very accessible.
If you’re planning to go there, make sure you have an updated map, as the Center has recently moved from its previous location to Hamamatsucho! I almost didn’t catch this. In fact, even knowing the real location, I walked around seemingly blind for about 30 minutes in Hamamatsucho, unable to find a building that looked like the magnificent Pokémon Centers I had seen on TV as a kid growing up. SO.
Once you leave the station, cross the pedestrian crossing right in front of the station and turn right. Keep walking for about a minute and you’ll come across a huge glass shopping center– if you take the huge escalator up to the first floor, the Center will be there waiting for you.
The shop was everything I could’ve dreamed about and more– they even played the Pokémon Center MUSIC from the games. Over and over again. The staff were extremely nice as well, and the guy serving me at the checkout even asked me what my favourite Pokémon were. This was a tough question to answer, purely because no-one should ever have to choose just one, and partly because the names in English and Japanese are not the same! ):
If you’re a Pokémon fan, this store will be your heaven. If there’s something you want, they’ll have a Pokémon version of it. You can buy Pokémon lunchboxes, drink bottles, hats, red-bean (anko) cakes in the shapes of Pikachu, figurines, watches, t-shirts. You can even buy Pokémon shaped macaroni and I was sorely tempted to do so, but this gigantic wall of soft toys caught my eye and, well. Girls are suckers for soft toys.
Of course, being the extremely diligent university student I am (hah!), I have no idea who these Pokémon are as they’re from the two new games, Black and White, and I’ve yet to have any time to play it. They look adorable, though I do start to question the character designers when one of the new Pokémon is an ice-cream… but anyhow! I picked my swag out carefully, which was difficult considering there was very little ‘old’ merchandise to choose from.
I bought a pixelated (adorable) Pikachu folder for ¥210, a Hilda phone strap for ¥350, which is now hanging off my very basic Softbank phone, and a soft Mudkip plush for ¥700ish. It even came in this awesome glittery bag, which just added to the huge amount of excitement. To be 9 again!
If you want to venture here yourself, definitely check out the Center’s homepage!