There are quite a few Pokémon Centres across Japan, known as havens for Poké lovers far and wide, offering limited-edition merchandise and plushies to add to those coveted collections. But Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Pokémon Centre offers something more — it has its very own permanent Pokémon Cafe.
Serving children and adults Pokémon-inspired dishes that are both cute and downright creative, the Pokémon Cafe is one of the only places you can try a plate of carbonara in the shape of Pikachu’s butt.
A few weeks ago, I decided to make a visit to this resident Poké Cafe and as I watched a costumed actor waddle around the room in an oversized Pikachu suit, greeting children with ear wiggles and shaking hands with each adult, I realised that Pikachu could potentially rule the world.
This little electric mouse has garnered a following of devout fans, young and old and you would be hard pressed to find someone who couldn’t recognise the yellow ball of fuzz. But despite the mouse’s global fame, Pikachu has set some time aside and become a pretty decent chef.
The Pokémon Cafe offered a variety of different dishes, drinks, and desserts and surprisingly, most of the food tasted as good as it looked. A Gengar grape drink was the standout of the evening — garnished with a light-up ice cube that gave the drink some ghostly vibes. But I couldn’t help feeling a bit monstrous after chomping on a set of Eevee and Pikachu head-shaped bread pieces.
Designed to be pleasing to the eyes, these dishes would bring out the inner child of any adult and as each diner was offered a random coaster to go along with their chosen drinks, the adults seemed the most excited for a little piece of Pokémon-themed plastic. But this made me think, why does Pokémon continue to stay so relevant?
Pokémon is Still Popular
The Pokémon video game franchise has spanned over two decades and it doesn’t look to be wrapping-up anytime soon, especially with the recent announcement of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Plus, the ongoing popularity of Pokemon Go and its generation of almost $2.4 billion in revenue since its 2016 launch, shows that peoples’ love for the series is definitely not wavering.
It is a franchise that is certainly adaptable. From its humble beginnings as Pokémon Red and Blue on the Gameboy to its most recent iterations on the Nintendo Switch: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Game Freak have added either small features or completely overhauled their games to suit Nintendo’s range of portable consoles — it’s easy to forget that quite a few of these games even had 3D functionality during the 3DS era (not that we really used it). Pokémon has stuck around and still continues to be a draw to people of all ages, despite its child-friendly and often simple gameplay.
After a visit to the Pokémon Cafe, I was reminded why I still enjoy Pokémon. After growing up on these games and the anime, my excitement came from the simple fact that I was thrilled to see my favourite Pokémon outside the game. While you could argue that the AR technology of Niantic’s Pokémon Go does this as well, having a big dancing Pikachu let you touch its tail is something different.