4,500-square meter Pokémon Wonder combines the fun of Pokémon with the beauty of nature.

The mainline Pokémon games are all about training your team of Pocket Monsters so they can beat up every other team in the world, and Pokémon GO is focused on the joy of capturing the critters in the first place. But the recently released New Pokémon Snap was an important reminder that Pokémon don’t have to be fighting to be fun, and that there’s a special joy just to spotting them out in the wild.

So it’s good timing on the part of Yomiuriland, a theme park on the northern outskirts of Tokyo, to create an entire Pokémon forest for fans to wander through and see how many different species they can find.

Billed as a “nature adventure,” Pokémon Wonder casts you as a newly arrived member of the research team of Professor Kureso, who’s voiced by veteran anime voice actress Maaya Sakamoto. After the professor and Pikachu give you an orientation about what kind of Pocket Monsters they want you to find and where you might see them, you’re let loose in Wonder Field, the first area of the Pokémon forest.

The venue is a vast area at the back of the Yomiuriland property where the vegetation has been left to grow wild for nearly 20 years. Waiting for you in the 4,5000-square meter (48,438-square foot) space is not only lush greenery, but cleverly concealed Pokémon!

▼ Why hello there, Oddish

▼ …Diglett

▼ …and Rowlet!

In total, there are more than 50 different species of Pokémon to find. Of course, having more humans than Pokémon in the forest would really hurt the sense of immersion, so you’ll be happy to know that a maximum of two teams, with no more than six people each, are allowed into the Pokémon Wonder attraction at any given time. Each team is given 90 minutes, and part-way through they split off into their own separate courses, with one group heading to an area called the Whispering Bamboo Forrest

…and the other to the Ancient Stone Walls.

The organizers haven’t said if there’s any sort of point/ranking system for how many species you find, but they have talked about the philosophy behind how they created their creatures. Taking inspiration from how Satoshi Tajiri’s original idea for the Pokémon franchise grew out of his love of catching bugs as a child, the goal of Pokémon Wonder is to create an experience where “kids and adults alike can experience the beauty of nature through Pokémon,” and also one where the Pocket Monsters fans see aren’t illustrations, CG, or stuffed animals. To that end, all of the Pokémon you’ll see are made using natural materials. The Rowlet above, for example, is carved from camphor wood, with a camelia leaf bowtie. The Omanyte below is a stone carving…

…and this Metapod is a folded palm leaf, with silverberry leaf eyes.

▼ Metapod also showed up in the mysterious Pokémon Wonder teaser video.


Since it’s part of Yomiuriland, Pokémon Wonder participants will need both a regular admission ticket to the park (which starts at 1,800 yen [US$16] for adults and 1,000 yen for children) plus an additional Pokémon Wonder ticket (4,900 yen for adults, 1,800 yen for children, with discounts available for groups of three or more). You’ll also need a reservation, which can be made online here.

Pokémon Wonder opens on July 17 and is currently scheduled to run until April 3 of next year.

Related: Yomiuriland
Sources: PR Times, Pokémon Wonder
Top image: PR Times
Insert images: PR Times, Pokémon Wonder
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’ll always be thankful to Maaya Sakamoto for that Escaflowne opening theme.