Includes special areas to help Pokémon fans from different countries become friends.

In one of our favorite examples of life imitating art, Japan is now dotted with actual Pokémon Canters, just like the worlds of the Pokémon video games and anime. But it wasn’t until this week that the country, or the world, had an entire store dedicated just to Pokémon GO!

December 19 was opening day, and right after we got up we headed straight to the store, called Pokémon GO Lab and located in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood. Since the focus here is the smash-hit mobile game branch of the franchise, there’s plenty of exclusive gear saluting Pokémon GO’s three joinable teams: Team Valor, Team Instinct, and Team Mystic.

▼ The life-size statue of Professor Willow greets SoraNews24’s Pokémon GO guru, staff writer P.K. Sanjun

▼ Hats emblazoned with each team’s insignia, plus a fourth design with a stylish Poké Ball motif

▼ Polo shirts

Speaking of the three teams, Pokémon GO Lab is also a Pokémon GO gym location, and the interior lighting changes in real-time to match the image color of whichever team is currently controlling it.

Since Pokémon GO’s hook is that it requires you to venture out into the real world to play, the store also has train/bus pass holders

pouches shaped like the game’s egg incubators

…and smartphone belt clips.

And of course, no specialty shop in Japan’ inventory is complete without an assortment of gift desserts, like these chocolate Pokémon coins and Poké Ball candies.

But wait, this place is called the Pokémon GO Lab, right? Does it do anything to host the academic advancement of Poké knowledge?

Sure, in the form of facilitating Pokémon exchange between players!

Inside the facility is a desk with materials to make placards telling other customers what specific Pokémon species you’ve been looking for to finish off your Pokédex, so that you can find someone to trade with. There’re spots to write both the Pokémon’s name and Pokédex number, and since some species have different names in the Japanese and English versions of the game, there’s even a bilingual chart to help fans from different parts of the world become friends and help each other out.

▼ P.K. is looking for a new Pikachu, by the way.

Alternatively, if you prefer to forge your friendship in the flames of battle, there’s also a special space set up for player-versus-player Pokémon GO sessions.

▼ Being indoors, it’s a much more comfortable venue in the winter than the outdoor “Pokémon arena park” recently found in northern Japan.

▼ P.K., repping Team Valor in his new threads

Now, you might be asking if you should visit Pokémon GO Lab, or one of Tokyo’s Pokémon Centers instead. The great thing, though, is that you really don’t have to choose one or the other, because Pokémon GO Lab is located inside Sunshine City, the same shopping center that houses the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo branch. Oh, and if you get hungry, it’s also the same shopping center that has the brand-new Pikachu cupcake shop!

Shop information
Pokémon GO Lab / ポケモンGOラボ
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashi Ikebukuro 3-1-2, Sunshine City Alpa 2nd floor
東京都豊島区東池袋3丁目1−2 サンシャインシティ 専門店街アルパ 2F
Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Website (Sunshine City)

Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]