Although I’ve never witnessed either in-person, I’m sure that the running of the bulls in Spain’s Pamplona and the return of the swallows each spring to their nesting grounds in Southern California are wonderful sights to see. And yet, I think I’m still happiest with what we get here in Yokohama: an annual visit from packs of Pikachus!
Just like they did last year, the loveable Pokémon once again overran the Minato Mirai harbor district for a week this August, But just like Nintendo’s Pocket Monsters routinely acquire enhanced abilities with each new video game or anime installment, in the time since their last appearance in Yokohama our adorable visitors had learned some new moves…dance moves!
Read on for all of our videos and photos of Pikachus grooving and swaying to hip-hop, hula, and more, with costumes to match!
Nintendo may be headquartered in Kyoto, and Tokyo is of course the center of Japan’s entertainment and media world, but Yokohama is where the very first Pokémon Center superstore was opened. Maybe that’s why the Pikachus choose to summer here, and this year they joined in with Yokohama’s annual dance festival with a weeklong event titled Dancing? An Outbreak of Pikachus (Odoru? Pikachu Tairyou Hassei Chu in Japanese), held from August 8 to 16, coinciding with Japan’s summer vacation period.
As a resident of Yokohama, I figured it was only fitting that I greet our guests, so I headed out the door and hopped on the train…
…for Minato Mirai Station, where I started my hunt for dancing Pocket Monsters. And while hunting for Pokémon in the games can be a time-consuming, often tedious task, the Pikachus definitely weren’t hiding in Yokohama.
▼ Our first of two Pikachu videos from this year’s event
Want an earful of the music these Pikachus were dancing to, plus dozens of people shouting “Kawaii!”? Here you go!
▼ Hula at 1:02, soul and funk at 2:27
You might not expect Pikachus to be such great dancers, considering that their bodies are almost entirely composed of a cuddly torso. But despite their short arms and legs, they kept up with their human counterparts, energetically twirling and stomping, with smiles on their faces the whole time.
The Pocket Monsters performed on five different stages set up around Minato Mirai. In front of the Nihonmaru, a training vessal for the Japan Coast Guard, they donned sailor costumes for a pop, stomp, and tap session with backup from a beatboxer and percussionists.
▼ Making time to meet/hug the fans
Nearby, the Queen’s Square entertainment complex had some gigantic decorations promoting its mixed-genre show.
▼ As if Krispy Kreme wasn’t tempting enough already…
To make sure even Pikachus who weren’t up for something as strenuous as dancing still got plenty of exercise, periodic parades and walks were held in both Queen’s Square and the adjacent Landmark Plaza.
Across the canal, the World Porters shopping center has an enclave of Hawaiian-themed stores and restaurants, so these Pikachus slipped on leis and grass skirts to shake to their hips in a hula show.
By the way, did you know there’s a difference between male and female Pikachus? While the guys have straight-edged tails…
…the girls’ end with a heart-shaped cleft, as seen on these lovely Pokémon hula dancers and ballerina.
Lucky fans also would occasionally come across groups of Pikachus roaming the neighborhood who were suddenly overcome by dance fever, and would stage impromptu performances in open spaces like the park bordering the Nihonmaru.
That same park was also covered with Pikachu statutes to relax and snap photos next to.
▼ Pensive plastic (possibly Plexiglas) Pikachu ponders perpetually.
Each day culminated with an extra-large-scale performance in front of Aka Renga Warehouse, where it was Pikachu ears and bottoms as far as the eye could see, thanks to the free sun visors being passed out and Pikachu tails and hairbands being sold.
Decking yourself out in Pikachu gear had benefits beyond just creating a festive atmosphere, too. During the event, numerous shops and restaurants in the neighborhood offered discounts to customers dressed up like the most famous Pocket Monster.
But even if you didn’t have any costume bits, this cleverly decorated wall in the Mark Is shopping center let anyone transform into Pikachu while resting their feet.
As the event was winding down, I tried asking one of the Pikachus for his impression of Yokohama.
Sadly, I’m not completely fluent in Pikachuruvian, so I don’t feel qualified to give a professional translation that would properly cover the myriad nuances of the phrase. Still, I think this photo shows that the Pocket Monsters definitely returned the warm sentiments of the fans who were thrilled to spend the week with them.
See you guys next year!
Videos, GIF, photos ©RocketNews24