Pokémon GO promotion aims to bring travelers to the hometown of One Piece’s creator.

Earlier this month, gentle Water-type Pokémon Lapras was introduced as a new tourism ambassador for Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, which was heavily damaged in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. But with so many characters in the Pocket Monster Pantheon, the beloved anime/video game franchise is also involved in a recovery project that’s going on simultaneously on the other side of the country.

Kumamoto Prefecture, at the southern tip of Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu, was hit by a strong earthquake in 2016. Both Kumamoto Castle and Aso-jinja, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, were damaged, and many residents were forced to evacuate their homes.

Kumamoto still hasn’t entirely put all of its pieces back together, but life is getting back to normal, and to encourage travel to the region mobile game Pokémon GO has launched a special tie-up in hope of promoting tourism to the prefecture. But it’s not just Kumamoto that Pokémon GO is teaming up with, but also smash-hit anime/manga franchise One Piece!

Eiichiro Oda, manga artist and One Piece creator, was born in Kumamoto City, and back in December a statue of One Piece protagonist Luffy was installed in the promenade that leads to the Kumamoto Prefectural Government Building.

On July 22, the Luffy statue will become a PokéStop, encouraging Pokémon GO players to visit it to score in-game items, and they’ll be greeted by an Oda-drawn illustration when accessing the PokéStop on their phones.

Even more exciting, though, is that from July 22 Pokémon mascot Pikachu will be wearing Luffy’s iconic straw hat, as the special Straw Hat Pikachu will be appearing in Pokémon GO!

Also part of the promotion are new Straw Hat costume items for Pokémon GO Pokémon Trainer avatars, which will be available through the game’s Style Shop.

▼ The July 22 start was chosen because it’s both the day the One Piece manga debuted (in 1997) and when Pokémon GO began service in Japan (in 2016)

While one would imagine the Straw Hat Pikachu will probably have an especially high encounter rate in Kumamoto, the game’s developers say that the special One Piece Pikachu can be found anywhere in the world between July 22 and July 29, and once you catch him, he keeps his special One Piece hat forever.

Source: Pokémon GO via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@OPcom_info
Top image: Pokémon GO
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