Pokemon Centres have saved our Pokemon (and our butts) many, many times – and they’re real-world lifelines for Poke-fans around the world. At Japanese branches, the access to exclusive merch makes us thankful we’re alive.
But if you think we’ve got it made, think again. There are still only 11 Pokemon Centres in Japan. And 3 are in the greater Tokyo area, with 1 more in Yokohama. We’re lucky to have a Pokemon Centre here in Osaka, even though it’s not near our office.
(The Pokemon Expo Gym, out at Lalaport Expo City, is a different thing that’s just as cool.)
So what’s the big deal about Japanese Pokemon Centres?
They look seriously awesome, inside and out
Come on, look at this place.
The atmosphere inside a Pokemon Centre is kinda exciting. Like stomping around in tall grass looking for random encounters. In Japan, you’ll see a mix of families and eager tourists looking around. We were lucky to go on a weekday – weekends can get crazy if there’s a new release. If you’ve never seen hundreds of people queue for a Pokemon card, go witness the madness sometime.
A stack of bright Pikachu yellow gacha machines in the corner caught our eye. It was calling us over. ‘Come get a starter Pokemon capsule, like you always wanted.’ For official Pokemon gachas, the prices (300 yen per try) were reasonable.
So, there’s a lot to take in before you even start shopping.
They help you live a truly Pokemon lifestyle
Poke-merch isn’t limited to plushies and trading cards. Why stop there? Stationery, kitchen stuff, phone accessories, clothes and bags, and ‘lifestyle goods’ are all waiting for you at a Pokemon Centre.
As you can see, you’ve got design and colour options with a lot of stuff. The J-website lets you search for merch featuring any Pokemon. Yep, over 800 of them. We tried this out with some random clicks. Every time, there was at least 1 item listed for that Pokemon.
Check in store, and you’ll see tons of Poke-plushies on the shelves. Like this:
If you want, you can dress like a Pokemon master every day. From cap to socks (there are a lot of T-shirts and hoodies in between). We’ve seen Eeveelutions ponchos, a straw hat with Pikachu ears, and… Poke-pants underwear. Now there’s a Pokeball joke we don’t wanna make…
For autumn/winter, the knitted hats and scarves were out. Visit a Pokemon Centre in summer, and you might see sunglasses and beach shorts. A complete Pokemon wardrobe sounds doable.
They stock Poke-foods
Keep up your energy for midnight Pokemon GO raids with sweets and snacks from the Pokemon Centre.
Chill, you won’t eat a Pokemon by accident. This curry’s got a Pikachu on the box, but it’s made with pork and corn instead. It’s also mild – no electric spiciness. (Can you imagine how hot a Charizard curry would be?)
Come to think of it, most of the food has Pikachu on the packet. Like the cup noodles. And the rice toppings. And the chewing gum… Yeah, when we look back at our pics, it’s Pikachu everywhere. Hope you like your food yellow!
Poke-themed snacks and drinks sometimes contain a little… magic. The flavours that ‘evolve’ as you chew sound kinda cool.
They have exclusive merch
Some items can only be bought at Japanese Pokemon Centres, or on the Japan website. And the website only ships within Japan. We know a lot of you know that already. Double bummer, if you’re not here.
The rarest goods change with the seasons: specials for Valentine’s Day, sakura, summer, Halloween, Christmas, etc. Plus, some of the limited merch is even more limited – to only 1 store. At the Pokemon Centre in Osaka, the last few ‘Mysterious Encounters’ and special Ditto goods were being snapped up.
In 2016, the best (worst) example of that was those Mario and Luigi Pikachu plushies. Different types were split up between Pokemon Centres in different cities. Mario and Luigi weren’t even on sale at the same time! To get everything, hardcore fans needed to travel almost the whole length of Japan. That’s a Poke-venture not everyone’s up for.
Miss out on those short-time specials, and you’ll have to find a reseller. Pokemon Centre merch pops up online (places like Amazon Japan and Yahoo! Auctions) every so often.
How to access the Pokemon Centres in Japan
Well, the obvious way would be ‘visit Japan’.
What’s also obvious is that not everyone can get here that easily. We know, it’s hard to live a Viridian City lifestyle on a Pallet Town budget.