I was born and raised in India. India is a place where Japanese cartoons and anime are very popular among kids. My younger brother was particularly fond of them and we’d watch Pokémon, Doraemon, Dragon Ball Z and Crayon Shin-chan on cartoon network together. It blows my mind to know that these cartoons are still very prevalent and are enjoyed by kids and adults alike. I remember telling my husband how I loved Pokemon as a child and now I am a mom to a child who loves it, too!
So, when I heard that this summer there was going to be a Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama, I knew I had to visit. The outbreak is usually a one-week affair and this year it is from 10th to 16th of August. We made plans with our Japanese friends who are Pokémon Go enthusiasts and have a cute little daughter about our son’s age. With 12th August being the perfect Sunday when both our families were available, we set out to Yokohama completely thrilled about what we were going to witness. I had read online about how the place is bursting with life-sized Pikachus dancing and marching everywhere. I think it’s safe to say that I was excited like a baby! (Actually, I was more excited than any baby could ever be.)
The train journey from Tokyo to Yokohama takes roughly an hour. The closest station to get down for this event is the Minato Mirai Station (Minato Mirai Line) or the Sakuragicho Station (JR/Municipal Subaway).
Once you’re there
Be ready to be swarmed by the crowds! There will be hordes of people wearing Pikachu hats everywhere – near you, around you, on the escalators, in the elevators… I wondered where everyone got similar Pikachu hats from? And then I spotted some people standing next to what seemed like a mountain of hats and they were distributing them. We did expect large crowds because this event happens once a year and we went on a weekend but still… it was exhausting. One of the things I love about Japan is that there is an order in everything like people waiting in lines to get on the elevator or standing patiently in long queues to get a picture taken at the Pikachu booth but simply waiting for our turn made me wonder if this was what I came here for.
You could avoid the crowds and head straight to the event but it happens at specific timings. Check this website www.yokohamajapan.com for more details. Our show didn’t begin until 15:30 and so we had a lot of time to kill. During this time, we got our photo clicked at the Pikachu booth, had lunch at an Indian restaurant and went to a striking children’s play area in the same building where the kids had a blast.
The moment of truth
— Sora News 24 on the Pikachu Outbreak 2018
At 15:00, we headed to the event area waiting to be awed by the Pikachus, listening to them say “pika pika” in their cute voices and hoping to get wonderful pictures. What we were told next by a man on duty broke my heart… the show got suspended because of the intense heat! It was a major disappointment. But this experience taught me a few things that I’ll share with you.
- Always have a backup plan! The official website has an advisory which says that these Pikachu events may be cancelled or suspended considering the weather at that time out of concern for viewer safety. (For more details visit pokemom.co.jp (Japanese).) So, while you might be very excited to see life sized Pikachus, it’s always a good idea to have some backup plan to fall upon during such an occasion. We went to the nearby Landmark Plaza. You can go to the 69th floor of this tower and have a panoramic view of the city. When the event resumed we saw it from this tower… while it seemed like a lot of fun, we were happy to be away in a cool, air-conditioned atmosphere away from the action, the heat and the crowds.
- Avoid baby strollers. The place is very congested and there is hardly any room for strollers to move smoothly. Bring them only if you absolutely must. I suggest carrying your baby in those baby carriers.
- Prepare yourself. Mentally, for the crowds and any possibility for the event to be cancelled. Physically, for the heat. Stay hydrated.
Remember the wonderful childhood memories, watch those cuddly Pikachus come to life and enjoy your time in Yokohama to the fullest!