Pokemon Go has gone live in Japan, the birthplace of Pikachu! Developed by US developer Niantic, the free smartphone game app has already taken users by storm in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, England, and Germany. But until it is officially launched in Singapore, Japan will be the nearest destination where Pokemon-crazed fans can go hunting.
Imagine the thrill of finding a Magmar, Ponyta or Vulpix while you’re near Mount Fuji! Or a Ghastly in Meiji Shrine! Yep, if the Pokemon Go hasn’t come to us, what’s stopping you from going to it?
In case you haven’t heard, McDonald’s outlets in the land of the rising sun are poised to become “gyms” where you can battle other trainers’ Pokemons! But you gotta catch ‘em all first, right? Pokemon are generally classified into a few types, which have specific habitats.
By this logic, here are the attractions we assume are the 10 best places to go hunting for Pokemon when it’s released in Japan:
- Mount Fuji – fire type Pokemons
I’d actually be disappointed if I wouldn’t be able to conveniently find the likes of Magmar, Ponyta, Vulpix in the vicinity of Mount Fuji, which is an active volcano about 100 km southwest of Tokyo. In fact, considering that onsens are dime a dozen in Japan, one would probably not need to go all the way to the foot of Mount Fuji to find fire type Pokemons!
- Fushimi Inari-taisha, Sanjusangen-do, Itsukushima Shrine and all the other shrines – psychic and fairy-type Pokemons
I won’t be surprised if you’ll find psychic-type Pokemons like Mew and Hypno, as well as fairy types like Jigglypuff lurking on the sacred grounds of these famous Shinto shrines. Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site best known for its floating torii gate, should have water and psychic Pokemon types like Slowpoke – it would be sacrilegious otherwise! Pokemon with psychic powers are said to be very powerful and intelligent, and since Japan is dotted with shrines, you should be able to collect all the psychic-type Pokemon in no time.
- Meiji Shrine – dragon type Pokemon
Now this is a shrine different from the others mentioned above. Dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, if Meiji Shrine isn’t home to the dragon Pokemon Dratini, I don’t know where else is more fitting. Meiji Shrine just a one minute walk away from Harajuku Station so you won’t have to go out of your way to find it.
- Harajuku – electric and fighting-type Pokemons
If there is a place where you’d expect to find Pikachu, I would guess that Harajuku would be it. Come on, it’s the neighbourhood where kawaii lives! It has also given the world Lolita Girls and distinctive Harajuku fashion. With all those bright lights and all that spunk, the streets of Harajuku should be chock-full of electric Pokemon like Voltorb and fighting Pokemon like Mankey.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Yasukni Shrine – ghost Pokemon
You should be able to find ghost Pokemon such as Gastly, Haunter, Gengar and Abra in these destinations, which are dedicated to the war dead. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is memorial park dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, while the spirits of some 2.5 million people are said to be enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo.
- Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – water type Pokemon
Famous for being home to a whale shark and some 620 species of other marine life, water type Pokemon such as Horsea, Seadra and Staryu would not be out of place here. As one of Japan’s largest and most spectacular aquariums, you can easily pass hours in this eight-storey complex while you admire the otters, jellyfish, rays and dolphins. The sea creatures are even engaged in unique training sessions designed to help them stay healthy – something you might want to take note of when you pick up your water type Pokemon and start training them too.
- Kamikochi – ground, ice, flying, water and rock-type Pokemons
Kamikochi, Nagano, is a remote mountainous highland valley within the Hida Mountains range, which are also dubbed the “Northern Alps” of the Japanese Alps. It offers some of Japan’s most beautiful mountain scenery amid a temperate climate. The waters which run in the marshes and ponds in the region are mainly from melted snow or underground aquifers, so the temperature is cold even in the height of summer. I say we should be able to find rock and water-types like Omanyte and Kabuto and even the ice and flying Articuno!
- Iriomoto-jima – grass, ground, poison, bug and flying type Pokemon
Japan’s landscape is rife with nature, and offer a variety of different habitats from temperate in the north, to subtropical and tropical towards the south. Iriomote-jima, the second largest island in Okinawa Prefecture, is famous for the critically endangered Iriomoto cat and venomous snake habu. Therefore, we would expect grass, ground, poison, bug and flying types to thrive here. Ekans would make great neighbours with the habu, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d run into a Bulbasaur there. Butterfree would be completely at home among the blossoms in spring. You need to travel to Iriomote-jima by ferry from Ishigaki island but I guess all that trouble is worth it if you’re going to find so many Pokemons, right?
- Nara Park – grass type Pokemon
Nara Park is a large public park in central Nara famous for its herds of freely roaming deer, but it’s the grass we’re interested in, in this context. Deer eat grass. Grass mean grass-type Pokemons, no? Fingers crossed that there’d be a Bellsprout or Oddish lying around.
- Ryoan-ji garden – rock- and ground-type Pokemon
Ryoanji Temple is the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden and is located in Kyoto. It consists of a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded by low earthen walls, with 15 rocks laid out in small groups, on patches of moss. It is designed such that from any vantage point, at least one of the rocks is hidden from view. Wonder if we would have to look hard to find rock Pokemon Geodude and Onix?
Are you booking your plane ticket yet? The only thing standing in your way: You probably won’t want to incur hundreds of dollars in roaming data. The app uses your phone’s GPS location data and pushes you notifications (your phone will vibrate) when a Pokemon is nearby, so you definitely need a 4G connection.
This is where we are going to share a second hack with you: Get a travel WiFi router from Changi Recommends before boarding the plane! With attractive rates of just $8 per day for travels (by Aug 31, 2016) and unlimited data usage in Japan, it’s going to be your best buddy when you play Pokemon Go. ChangiWiFi provides WiFi loss coverage as an option at $10/trip, and rental is waived for the first day of collection. It doesn’t matter what time your flight is as the Changi Recommends booth is open 24 hours for the convenient collection and return of your router. Check out our post here on how it works and how you can get your hands on one.
You can also purchase the Japan Rail Pass and travel to most of the locations we’ve named above, from Changi Recommends. Click here to purchase it and collect the exchange order from your preferred Changi Recommends counters, then present the exchange order at Japan Rail train stations to get your tickets.
Pokemon Tourism – it might actually become a thing!
Sources: cnet.com, bbc.com, lifehacker.com, hypebeast.com, pokemon.wikia.com, Wikipedia.com, Google.com, timeout.com, japan-guide.com, channelnewsasia.com, techinasia.com