Turning Yokohama yellow: Pikachu Outbreak in Japan, summer 2017

The summer ‘Pikachu Outbreak’ event’s been ‘a thing’ for a couple years now. ‘A thing’ as in the biggest, craziest annual Pokemon-themed event in the world! Pikachu takes over for a whole week, rampaging through the streets and even taking to the skies.

We braved the 2017 Pikachu Outbreak, in Yokohama, Japan. That’s where it’s been held every year so far.

The place to be was Sakuragicho station, one stop away from the main Yokohama station. For anyone unsure where they were, this is what greeted us straight off the train:

Guess we’d come to the right place! It was time to catch some Pikachus. On camera.

Wanna catch them all? Be early!

The attractions and events were down to start from 10am every day. We got there at 10:05, and it felt late. Audience seats at the special stages were already full – for performances that started over an hour later. These Pikachu fans were so organised, Team Rocket could learn a hell of a lot from them.

One good thing: so many people meant so many Pika costumes to look at. And we don’t just mean the staff, who were paid to wear so much yellow. The Poke-hunters all around us really made an effort. More than us, anyway. That’s why we didn’t take any selfies…

Spot the paper Pikachu headbands that were handed out in front of Yokohama train stations. How many thousands of those things did they print? It got people into the Pokemon spirit, though. We saw people of all ages with Pikachus on their heads.

Throw a Pokeball in any direction and you’ll hit something

We were told to expect over 1,000 Pikachus in Yokohama – maybe up to 1,500. Plus the chance of spotting other Pokemon in the mix. It was kinda impossible to do a headcount, so let’s just say a lot of Pikachus showed up.

At every event location, a pair of Pikachus greeted us. Some had different outfits on – down by the Minato Mirai area, there were Pikachus in Hawaiian shirts and sailor costumes. The ones outside Sakuragicho station were just trying to not get rained on.

The theme of this year’s Outbreak was ‘Not Just Pikachu’. The yellow-ness was so blinding that we didn’t spot many other Pokemon in the end. A few smaller ones, like Mimikyu, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur, were hiding inside Yokohama World Porters shopping centre.

Pikachu dominated the whole city. Maybe that’s because we were only seeing the real world.

Anyone with a smartphone would’ve seen Mewtwo finally appear on the Japanese Pokemon GO app. Why weren’t we glued to our phones? You shoulda seen those crowds. All around us, Pokemon Hunters standing totally still, like zombies. Tapping on their phone screens like they wanted to break them.

With people walking super slow or just standing in the way, we decided to keep on moving. And that was a great idea, in the end.

Pikachus on parade

Guess who walked down the right street at the right time to get front row for the daily Pikachu parade?

Yeah, yeah we did. And it was amazing.

Pairs of Pikachus marching down the road, bobbing their heads. We had no idea they had such good natural rhythm. Those Pikachus looked so happy to be there! Wiggling their ears and tails in time to the beat, like they were doing the Pokerap.

It wasn’t the right day for the final massive Poke-carnival, but it was still awesome. A highlight of the day – or 4, because they repeated the parade 3 more times later on.

Poke-merch everywhere you look

Get (hundreds of) thousands of Pikachu fans all in the same place, and what are you gonna do? You’re gonna sell them stuff, that’s what. Stuff that’s mostly yellow and/or has a tail.

Obviously, the Pokemon Centre in Yokohama was packed… with Pokemon goods and fans. For anyone only in town for Pikachu, smaller stands had extra merch ready. Inside Queen’s Square, yet more Pika-fied staff were ready to take our cash.

Catch it next year, if you can

There’s gotta be another Pikachu Outbreak in 2018. With how crazy this summer’s event was, there’s no way they’ll cancel it.

Satisfy your Pikaddiction all year round with Pokemon goods direct from Japan.

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