INSiGHT | Exploring the New Pokémon Center in Kyoto

By Neil Flynn 27.03.2016

The Pokémon Company International is pulling out a magnitude of stops for Pokémon's 20th anniversary, from special edition Nintendo 2DS systems, a variety of new and recently-released video games, plus the announcement of Magearna and the 19th Pokémon movie.

Among the whirlwind of the anniversary is the opening of Kyoto's very own Pokémon Center. It is strange that one of Japan's biggest cities and the home of Nintendo doesn't already have one - the closest beforehand being 30 miles away in Osaka. Interested in paying a visit? Read on for a closer look inside.

Image for INSiGHT | Exploring the New Pokémon Center in Kyoto
As you can imagine, the store houses a slew of Pokémon merchandise, ranging from the Kyoto-exclusive goodies to the usual tat. The special and exclusive goods making a splash at launch had Pikachu donned in a variety of traditional Japanese kimono. This design was then placed onto Japanese tea cups, fans, plushies and pens, among other items. Of course, the usual barrage of Pokémon-related merch is also on show, from t-shirts, keyrings, building blocks, trading cards, badges, snacks, towels, bags and anything you could literally put a picture of Pikachu on. You might want to come on payday, though, as some of the items are quite pricey for what they are.

There is a wall dedicated to Pokémon figurines, plus a small section for amiibo and a hidden section for video games. There is also a screen showing a reel of the latest Pokémon titles, ranging from Pokémon Sun/Moon, Detective Pikachu and Pokémon Picross...but no Pokémon GO from what I could see.

There is also a small selection for 3DS decals, cart cases and carry cases, but I've actually seen larger selections in other electronic stores and I am a little surprised by the lack of 3DS-exclusive accessories. It would have been pretty good to have a Pokémon Kimono-themed carry case.

Image for INSiGHT | Exploring the New Pokémon Center in Kyoto
On opening day (16th March), it was so busy that a ticketing system to get into the store was put in place. It was just as well they had the foresight for this, as thousands turned up. Given that this was a Wednesday, I could see this being in place for the next week or so. A slight amount of confusion was in place as the registration hall is on the seventh floor and the store itself is on the fifth floor. People were quite happy to flip out their 3DS systems to bide their time, and it was a great opportunity for trainers to trade and get StreetPass hits.

A maximum of ten of one item was put in place to stop (or at least help prevent) scalpers causing frustration for the real fans. Many of the popular items sold out fast, though, which was a right sucker punch to those in the rear of the line. A pre-order system of the most popular goods was in effect in the queue, so you could reserve a variety of badges, keyrings and plushies. It was a big operation, which involved hundreds of employees to manage.

Image for INSiGHT | Exploring the New Pokémon Center in Kyoto
For those visiting Kyoto, there is no real reason to not pop into the Pokémon Center. It is close to tourist attractions and in the heart of one of the best shopping districts in Kyoto. However, if you are a die-hard Pokémaniac, then perhaps you should make the pilgrimage to the Pokémon Gym in Osaka's expo city to be really immersed into the world of Pokémon.

For those just wanting some Pokémon-related merchandise, then the Kyoto branch should do. It is on the fifth floor of Kyoto's Takashimaya department store on Shijo-Kawarmachi. See the website for more information.

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