The Okada Theater was swept away in 2011, but Pokémon GO players are still visiting its location, and learning a little about this tsunami-ravaged city in the process.
One of the cooler aspects of Pokémon GO is how the augmented reality game encourages players to venture out into the real world to hunt for Pocket Monsters. Of course, you can’t catch the slippery critters with your bare hands. As any Pokémon Trainer worth his salt knows, you have to catch them in Poké Balls, which you’ll need to periodically restock yourself with by visiting PokéStops.
PokéStops are tethered to real-life places of interest. Many of these tend to be locations that also served as portals in developer Niantic’s previous augmented reality hit, 2013’s Ingress, which brings us to one very unique PokéStop in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture.
Ishinomaki suffered some of the worst damage of any city in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region. Thousands of residents perished in the disaster, and hundreds of homes were destroyed.
▼ A photo taken at Ishinomaki’s port in March of 2011, nine days after the tsunami.
As part of a goodwill and relief effort, a special Ingress event was held in the town a few years back, and at least one of those waypoints now seem to have now become a PokéStop. While in Ishinomaki, Japanese Twitter user @poe1985 came across a PokéStop at the site of the Okada Gekijo movie theater, which was destroyed in the tsunami. Like all PokéStops, approaching it causes a photo and brief history of the location to pop up on the player’s screen.
古市憲寿 (@poe1985) July 30, 2016
“Even though the building is gone, the Okada Gekijo still exists as a PokéStop,” commented @poe1985. For those who never had a chance to see the theater before its tragic end, it’s a poignant reminder of how suddenly and violently things can change, plus the importance of appreciating life and remembering those who have lost theirs.