Pokémon Go Event Brings 10,000+ Visitors to Quake-Hit Prefecture
Pokėmon Go launched its current Lapras event in Japan’s northeastern Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures on November 11. The event offers increased numbers of Lapras in parts of the coastal region. One goal is to boost the economy of the area hit hardest in 2011’s earthquake and tsunami disaster.
More than 10,000 people visited Miyagi Prefecture for the event on Saturday alone. The prefecture also held Pokėmon Go festivities in Nakaze Park on Saturday related to the Lapras event. Yoshihiro Murai, governor of Miyagi, appeared and spoke to trainers. He welcomed visitors and said:
More than five years have passed since the earthquake disaster, and the weathering of affected areas is continuing little by little. A difficult situation continues, but I would like people to visit the affected areas starting with Ishinomaki two or three times for this opportunity.
Players gathered in downtown areas of coastal Miyagi, and a four-course bus tour took visitors to Oshika Peninsula, the town of Ogatsu, and the Okumatsushima region. Visitors had a chance to enjoy local specialties like Ishinomaki yakisoba noodles and octopus chowder. There were even booths set up to for people to nominate locations for new Pokėstops.
Trainers hunting a rare and valuable monster made the tourism promotion event a success. Proceeds at local shops reportedly doubled from the previous week. However, the event also brought some chaos to Miyagi.
Traffic congestion and on-street parking on November 12 and 13 hampered local citizens’ daily lives. Although no one filed official complaints about pedestrians, many players stared at their smartphones while walking and paid no attention to their surroundings. Distracted players jumped out into roads, and players traveling by car often stopped their vehicles on the shoulders of Japan’s notoriously narrow streets.
Police stations in Ishinomaki, Miyagi received a large volume of complaints related to inappropriately parked cars. Parking as well as slow-driving concerns prompted police to send out patrol cars. Police forces also investigated reports of suspicious people and lost children.
The Lapras event continues in parts of the Tōhoku region until November 23. Visitors are advised to mind their manners and obey laws so that everyone can enjoy the rest of the app’s first regional event.
Developer Niantic Labs held the first Pokėmon Go in-game event from October 26 to November 1. Niantic Labs reported that players caught 1.3 billion spooky Pokémon over the five-day period.