We spent two days exploring, and had a Wailord of a time!

Did you know that, despite being Pokémon’s place of origin, Japan has never played host to the Pokémon World Championships until this year?! That’s right–the “WCS”, as the competition is called, was held in Japan for the first time this year, and the festivities surrounding it were a riot of Pokémon love!

The portside Minato Mirai area of Yokohama was selected to host the competition for 2023, and rightly so, since it’s the unofficial hub of Pokémon activity in the Kanto area, being the location of the annual Pikachu Outbreaks (pre-COVID). Fittingly, the city accepted the honor with gusto and turned itself into a veritable Pokémon theme park, with cool activities and events held all throughout the area. We went to check it out the day before the matches started and the day of, and we had a Wailord of a time.

The WCS has a really long history, and it’s conducted on a huge scale, which makes it extremely impressive in more ways than one. The competition itself has four subdivisions: Video Game, Card Game, Pokémon Go, and Pokémon Unite. Getting into the World Championships is such a difficult feat that it’s a far-off dream for even some of the strongest, most serious Pokémon trainers. Top players from countries all over the world contend in some fierce battles.

The Championships, which were held in the Pacifico Yokohama building in Minato Mirai, lasted three days, from 11 August to the final battle on 13 August, but the area has been celebrating since July. There were merchandise sales, shows, and even some events that required pre-registration.

There was plenty to do even in the spur of the moment. For example, anyone could attend the public viewing of the World Championships within the main hall of Pacifico Yokohama. The high skill level of the players, no matter which category, was amazing!

While you can’t get into the actual competition floors without a pass, anyone could pop into the public viewing area. It seemed like a bit of a hidden gem, since we were able to get in and out easily. Having dabbled in the card game a bit ourselves, it was cool to watch high-level card game players take each other on.

The Pacifico also had a Pokémon Activity Zone, where lots of people were playing Pokémon games and participating in trivia contests. Not only were these free, but we didn’t have to bring anything to participate. It seemed like a highly popular zone for kids.

There was plenty to do outside of the Pacifico, too; things that were unrelated to the WCS. For one, Pokémon appeared in hordes all over the neighborhood in an event called Pokégenic. There were photo spots everywhere, so it was fun not only to stumble upon them but to search them all out.

For example, in the Nipponmaru Memorial Park, there was a street sign with a Morpeko on it…

…Applin hiding in crates of apples…

…and a Stonjourner camouflaged into the wall above the entrance to the Yokohama Port Museum!

The city was basically filled with Pokémon! We had serious doubts that anyone could find them all in a day.

▼ We brought our favorite Pikachu plushie and posed it in front of some great spots.

What surprised us even more was the abundant displays of Pokémon cards all throughout the city, from Mark Is to Queens Square, the Landmark Plaza, the Sky Building, and other major landmarks around the neighborhood. There were Pokémon cards everywhere!

In Queens Square, oversized cards were stuck to the floor, almost making us sorry to walk there.

At Mark Is, the illustrations of recently released cards for the original 151 Pokémon were on exhibition for everyone to see, watched over by a life-size Exeggutor.

And there was even a huge Pikachu card at the Landmark Plaza!

The corridor was lined with enlarged legendary Pokémon cards, so there were plenty of amazing illustrations to see, even within a short distance.

▼ With the illustrations blown up so large, it was a lot easier to appreciate the art.

There was so much more to do! A boat decorated luxuriously in Pokémon decals, areas where you could play Pokémon video games, a stamp collection activity, and Pikachu parades, all of which were free and open to participate in. And even though the area was absolutely packed with Pokémon fans from all around the world, it didn’t feel crowded. Somehow knowing that all the people there were fans like us made the crowds actually quite comfortable. And if you’re a TCG or Pokémon video game player, you can’t deny it was a great opportunity to trade and battle with people from different countries.

That was just the free and open attendance stuff too. There were also shows, including drone shows, which were super cool and required tickets purchased in advance for the sectioned-off areas.

Overall, we were super glad that we went to check it all out. It reminded us how much we love Pokémon, and renewed our sense of awe about how far-reaching the love of Pokémon is. It was an incredibly fun two days.

▼ Even the station was decorated with Pokémon passion!

Though the competition itself is over and many of the festivities surrounding the event have already ended, there is still plenty of Pokémon stuff left to enjoy. The Pokémon cards and the card illustrations will be on display until September 30, Pokémon Colors is still open in Yokohama, McDonald’s has Pokémon toys in their Happy Meals until 24 August, and of course, Yokohama has several permanent Pokémon manhole covers scattered around town. The Pokémon fun never stops!

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