Pokemon is an undeniable worldwide craze. It seems that nothing can stop the brands popularity, especially with the recent Detective Pikachu movie and the continued resurgence in popularity of Pokemon Go. So of course it comes as no surprise that Japan more than anyone loves their beloved home grown franchise. From Pokemon Onesies to Pikachu home goods and of course the well known Pokemon Cafe providing enough Pokemon themed food that you could almost literally eat, sleep and breath Pokemon! But who would have ever guessed that certain Pokemon would become so loved that they would get jobs within local politics and government?!
We've found four Japanese prefectures who loved certain Pokemon so much that they've been made into official mascots and even ambassadors for them. Let them guide you to their local specialties now!
1. Sandshrew: Tottori Prefecture
Tottori Prefecture was perhaps the first to trail-blaze this new craze of inviting Pokemon to become mascots to their prefecture. Why Sandshrew you ask? Well, Tottori prefecture is actually famous for being the only desert region on the main islands of Japan, making Sandshrew a perfect choice for their mascot! Since deserts aren't really what you think of when you think about Japan's nature, Tottori decided the cute shrew-like Pokemon would be the best at drawing attention to their less well known attractions.
In fact, this year Tottori ran the "Sandshrew, Come!" Festival in which 35 locations participated, visitors being able to purchase local goods or complete activities as part of a stamp rally. Getting a certain number of stamps earns you a certain kind of prize depending on the number collected. Pokemon Go players were even treated to special prize draws and the chance to get more Alolan Sandshrew more often!
2. Chansey: Fukushima Prefecture
Fukushima made a wonderful choice for their mascot when they picked the pink Pokemon Chansey as their ambassador. The plump pink Pokemon, associated in the series for being an aide at the Pokemon Centers already seems like an apt enough choice to help 'heal' the prefecture after the 2011 disasters. Did you know though that Chansey is known as "Lucky" in Japan and Fukushima can be translated to "Lucky Island" in English? With all of that considered it seems like a match made in heaven! With the partnership lasting until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Fukushima is hoping that Chansey will help draw in more visiters to their area!
3. Slowpoke: Kagawa Prefecture
Back in 2018, Kagawa Prefecture in Japan and The Pokemon Company worked together to rename the prefecture Slowpoke Prefecture as part of an elaborate April Fool's joke. Well, that didn't last long as in a short campaign the lazy Pokemon became the official mascot of the region! Kagawa, well known for their Udon made the joke based on the Japanese name of the Pokemon, "Yadon" which sounds a little like "udon". A little strange for English speakers, I know, but pretty hilarious in Japan! Once again, the collaboration involved plenty of Pokemon Go related goodies and local events. Probably a little too much for a true Slowpoke to handle!
4. Geodude: Iwate Prefecture
Iwate Prefecture stepped up to the plate next with their choice of the rock-ground type Pokemon, Geodude. Certainly not the cutest of Pokemon to choose to be the official tourism ambassador of your region, right? Well, it makes a little more sense when you know that Iwate's kanji translates to both "rock" and "hand" making Geodude stand out amongst his fellow more furry companions! His costume might seem a little strange with the grey and white leg patterned legs, but this was to try and help visitors envision Geodude floating easier and to ensure everyone has a "pleasant encounter" with the mascot. You can even check out his official theme song here!
5. Lapras: Miyagi Prefecture
Lapras might have just stolen the title of cutest official prefecture mascot (unless you're counting Pikachu and Eevee, of course!) from Sandshrew now that Miyagi Prefecture has launched their tourism campaign . The reason seems a little less clear than the others, however Lapras is certain to help the prefecture with their post-2011 recovery. Plus his waddling is super cute to say the least!
Who knows whether there will be more Pokemon mascots in the future? I'm sure we might see more in the coming months leading up towards next year and the Tokyo Olympics! Who would you want as your own personal Pokemon mascot? Let us know in the comments below!
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