Does the emperor want to battle?

The abdication of Japan’s Emperor Akihito and ascension of his son, Naruhito, have conveniently come during Japan’s extra-long spring Golden Week holiday period. So on May 1, the very first day of the new Reiwa imperial era most of Japan had the day off, and Japanese Twitter user @hoteltagawa was spending part of his leisure time walking around Tokyo while playing Pokémon GO.

A lot of the hype surrounding the game has died down since its initial release in 2016, and while developer Niantic routinely adds in additional species of Pocket Monsters to catch and collect, some may argue that Pokémon GO really doesn’t offer any new forms of excitement to offer these days. But according to @hoteltagawa, his Pokémon GO experience on the first day of Reiwa was like no other, because while using the game’s AR camera mode, he not only encountered a Pikachu, but also Japan’s new emperor.

▼ If Pikachu is hiding, click on the photo to make him appear.

@hoteltagawa says he was in the city’s upscale Akasaka neighborhood when Emperor Naruhito’s motorcade came by, and that he snapped the blurry pic above right as the monarch’s chauffeured sedan was driving past him.

Online reactions included:

“It’s blurry, but you can still tell that that’s the Emperor and Empress.”
“I like how the logo on the sign for the parking lot matches Pikachu’s color scheme.”
“What amazing timing!”
“The Emperor wants to battle!”
“If the Emperor were a Pokémon Trainer, I bet it’d be an Empoleon [since they look like emperor penguins].”
“So did you throw a Poké Ball at him?”
“Gotcha! EMPEROR was caught!”

Unfortunately, the blurriness of the image does make one wonder if the photo is legitimate, or if it’s something that was cobbled together in a photo editing program. Either way, though, it’s an image of Japan’s imperial family together with a prominent figure of the country’s pop culture royalty, and now we can’t help wondering if @hoteltagawa had battled Naruhito and won, would that have made him ruler of Japan?

Source: Twitter/@hoteltagawa via Hachima Kiko
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