Despite the famous “Gotta catch ‘em all!” tagline, Pokémon trainers don’t spend every moment of their adventures traipsing through the underbrush searching for new Pocket Monster species. Part of the process of becoming a Pokémon Master is making a pilgrimage to gyms where trainers can strengthen their skills and bonds with their adorable biological arsenal.
Until now, the only places to find these gyms were within the video games and anime of the Pokémon franchise, but next month marks the opening of the first official Pokémon gym in Japan, where fans can meet and train with a variety of Pokémon in interactive and augmented reality attractions.
The Pokémon Expo Gym will be located inside the Expo City complex in Osaka’s Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, which served as host of the Expo ’70 world’s fair in 1970. Unlike the Pokémon Center retail stores found in Japan, the Pokémon Expo Gym will be more focused on experiences than shopping. Among the attractions are Charizard’s Battle Colosseum, where you have to help the fire-breathing dragon stop squabbling with his trainer, Mimi, so they can win their next match.
Smeargle’s Promo Studio has the Pocket Monster looking for background dancers for a music video, perhaps in an effort to show Pikachu he’s not the only one who knows how to boogie.
Muscular Machamp is having trouble performing his special moves, and could use some advice over in Machamp’s Aid Center.
And rounding off the marque attractions is Zoroark’s Bad Boy Dojo, where the Pokémon Expo Gym’s website somewhat troublingly promises Zoroark will help you “awaken your inner bad boy by practicing and raising your understanding of evil.”
Admission to the gym costs 500 yen (US$4.20), which can be put towards the cost of individual attractions. Each of the above are priced at 600 yen, while Macho J’s Boxercise, Gardevoir’s Investigative Headquarters, and virtual Pokémon Battle Bowling cost 400 yen.
You may be wondering where poster Pokémon Pikachu is in all this. Downloading the Pokémon Expo Gym Gear app to your smartphone will allow you to take advantage of the gym’s augmented reality setup, which lets you search the premises for the cute little guy.
And of course Pikachu is represented in the gift shop, which sells exclusive Pokémon Expo Gym merchandise.
The Pokémon Expo Gym opens on November 19.
Pokémon Expo Gym / ポケモンEXPOジム
Address: Osaka-fu, Suita-shi, Senribanpaku Kouen, 2-1 Expo City