It’s been nearly 20 years since Pokémon fans first aspired to catch ‘em all. From video games to TV shows and movies to trading cards and all other manners of merchandise, Pokémon has permeated all facets of popular culture. But starting this November 19th, fantasy and reality will collide in the franchise’s latest evolution: a real-life Pokémon gym.
Sanoyas Interaction will be opening the Pokémon Expo Gym –an immersive “edutainment” facility –next month in Osaka, Japan. Part education center, part entertainment venue, and all parts awesome, the Pokémon Expo Gym will be home to arcade-style games, training programs, and feature attractions such as “Charizard’s Battle Coliseum” and “Gardevoir’s Control Score”.
The gym is primarily intended for children, but, let’s be honest: if Pokémon defined your childhood (and beyond), you’re going to want to come too. Fans of all ages can battle and trade with fellow players, track their rankings and stats on the Pokémon Expo Gym Gear smartphone app, and can enjoy the wealth of rewards and opportunities the gym will offer.
Visitors to the gym can purchase member’s cards and will have access to exclusive merchandise –including special Pokémon for the franchise’s Nintendo 3DS games (Alpha Sapphire, Omega Ruby, X, and Y).
For Pokémon fans everywhere, it’s a dream come true. While no plans have been announced for international expansion, if all goes well, maybe one day Pokémon gyms will spread to America. In the meantime, we can console ourselves with a trip to Build-a-Bear and bring home our very own Pikachu. Every trainer starts somewhere, right?
Tell us what you think! Are the Pokémon Expo Gym and Build-a-Bear really for kids? How has Pokémon been part of your life? Leave us a comment –we’d love to hear from you!