A few weeks ago, the handlers of the Pokémon franchise announced the Pikachu Tairyou Hassei Chu, or “An Outbreak of Pikachus” event. First they brightened our day with a TV ad showing the adorable Pocket Monsters hanging out in a shopping mall. Then they teased us with a photo of the electrified rodents landing on the dock.
And now, they’re here!
We grabbed our cameras and went Pikachu hunting in Yokohama, and we were not disappointed. We were, though, almost completely paralyzed by the awesome overdose of cuteness that comes from a parade of a pack of 20 Pikachus.
Ordinarily, we don’t like to spoil the ending of an article, but if you’ve got even a passing interest in Pokémon, or cute stuff in general, you need to see this video of the Pikachu parades right now. The story behind the video continues below.
Really, I was born at the wrong time to become a huge Pokémon fan. When the franchise launched, I was already about 10 years older than its target demographic, plus all of my anime/video game time and capital was already tied up with Escaflowne, Slayers, and King of Fighters.
So while I know Nintendo’s cash cow has a reputation for consistent quality and fun, I’ve never personally experienced the rush of stumbling across the Pokémon you’ve been looking for. Or at least I hadn’t, until the cute yellow rodents decided to make the city I live in their home for the week.
The Tairyou Hassei Chu event is going on in Minato Mirai, Yokohama’s fashionable harbor area that’s filled with parks, entertainment complexes, high-rise condominiums, and some beautiful views where the sea, sky, and city converge. So the first order of business was a train ride to Minato Mirai Station, which is about 30 minutes south of downtown Tokyo. After getting off the train, we spotted our first Pikachu before we were even out of the gates
This giant critter is one of the many Pikachu bouncing stations that are set up around the city for the event. Since adults aren’t allowed, though, we had to settle for admiring the design.
▼ Plus the Pikachu tails that were part of the event staff’s uniform.
Speaking of the staff, they were handing out Pikachu visors and special Pokémon cards made just for the event featuring a group of Pikachus posing in front of Yokohama landmarks. According to the event’s flier, the cards are supposed to be for elementary school-age kids and younger, but I guess we looked youthful/immature enough that they decided to bend the rules for us.
Speaking of the flier, although we’d heard rumors of a parade with more than a dozen Pikachus, we couldn’t find any information written about when, or even where, it would take place. Even the staff was coy, telling us, “You’ll just have to see if you can spot them!”
Since non-video game Pokemon hunting doesn’t allow you to use cheat codes, we did the next best thing. Tairyou Hassei Chu is taking place at a number of shopping centers in Minato Mirai, so we asked the receptionist at one of their information desks if she could help us, and she definitely could.
“As long as it’s not raining, there are four parades a day, at 11 a.m. and 1, 2:30, and 4 p.m. The route runs from the Mark Is shopping center to the Landmark Plaza shopping center, and goes in front of the Yokohama Art Museum.”
Armed with this insider information, we made our way to the pedestrian plaza between Mark Is and the museum a few minutes before 1 o’clock, where we spotted a group of staff members carrying flags that looked like just the sort of thing you’d use for a parade.
Two of them took up positions in the middle of the sunny plaza, and given how high the temperature was, we figured they wouldn’t be standing around there unless something was about to happen, and wow, did it ever.
That’s a group of 20 Pikachus dancing down the street. And while the lack of any sort of announcement means the staff is pretty low-key about the whole thing, the wave of energy and excitement that goes through everyone who happens to be passing by when this happens is so cool it’s actually sort of moving.
The Pikachus are too busy frolicking and waving to the crowd to stop for hugs and handshakes, but it’s a different story inside Mark Is.
While you won’t find as many Pocket Monsters as in the parade, you can usually find at least a couple in the lobby.
▼ Which is also where you’ll find this giant Pikachu balloon.
▼ Flower Pikachu was a huge hit with girls.
There’s usually a Pikachu or two stationed on the upper floors, also.
Our next stop was Landmark Plaza, which is a block away from Mark Is. The more upscale center has its own Pikachu balloon, which is actually filled with dozens of smaller ones.
Our initial plan was to kill time here until 2:30, when the group we’d seen march over here earlier would make their return trip to Mark Is. Little did we know, though, that a second troupe of Pikachus was ready for a lap around the inside of Landmark Plaza!
▼ The clever Pikachus avoided capture by making sure not to pass directly in front of the Pokémon Center.
Then, just like our source had told us, at 2;30 Pikachus started streaming out of Landmark Plaza.
While Mark Is and Landmark Plaza have the largest deployments of live Pikachus, they’re not the only venues fort the Tairyo Hassei Chu event. Cosmo World, the compact theme park that’s home to Yokohama’s famous Ferris wheel, is also taking part in the Pokémon festivities.
▼ Cosmo World’s contingent of inflatable Pikachus
▼ This extra-large specimen was doing his best Attack on Titan impression.
There was a pair of Pikachus on duty to provide hugs and smiles, too.
On the subject of smiles, we couldn’t help but notice how incredibly cute the Pikachus’ were. The secret is the three-dimensional design, which makes their faces a lot more expressive than a flat, painted-on mouth would.
▼ Also, Pikachu is amazingly soft.
Another symbol of Yokohama is the Nipponmaru, a sailing ship that used to be a training ship for those wishing to join the merchant marine. It’s since been turned into a museum, and during the Tairyo Hassei Chu event, Piakchu has come aboard.
The flags flying on the Nipponmaru and in its surrounding plaza have also been temporarily replaced with Pokémon ones.
If you’re more into high fashion that nautical history, popular clothing retailer Beams, which has a shop in the Queen’s Square shopping center, has set aside a patch of its floor space for Pikachu, who appears in shopping, chandelier, and morbidly obese versions.
▼ OK, that’s it, no more riding around in the Poké Ball! You seriously need to do some cardio.
Beams is also selling stuffed animals of their own unique Pikachu, but if you ask us, his slightly reshaped ears and facial features make him look a little too much like a sinister minotaur.
▼ Pikachu inside Queen’s Square
And at Aka Renga, the former customs house that now houses an art gallery, jazz club and restaurants, you’ll find the Pikachu Beach House.
We were a little bummed out to find there isn’t any Pikachu-shaped food like in Roppongi’s Pokémon café or our very own RocketKitchen. Really, the only nod to the series on the menu is the variety of juices that are all about the same hue as Pikachu.
There’re also only about a half-dozen tables, although the chairs, which come in Pikachu ear and tail varieties, are pretty darned cool.
Aka Renga once again has bouncing Pikachus and live ones, as well as its own unique attraction, the Pikachu car.
▼ Or, as we like to call it, the Picarchu
▼ Pikachu’s mouth is painted onto the grille.
Unfortunately, the Pikachu car isn’t available to rent, so we had no choice but to take the train home, which meant a walk back to the station. After a whole day surrounded by Pikachus, though, we suddenly found we had plenty of spring in our step.
▼ Thanks, guys! You’re like our very own fuzzy little bottle of Gatorade!
If you’re looking for a similar boost, Pikachu Tairyou Hassei Chu is going on from now until August 17.
Related: Pikachu Tairyou Hassei Chu website
Photos, video © RocketNews24