PXL 20220910 064305119I'm sure most people have heard of Pokémon- it's the highest grossing and arguably most well-known media franchise of all time. I've been a fan of the series for nearly 15 years, and its popularity is only exacerbated in Japan.

Pokémon started out with its signature RPG video game series in 1996, but has also dipped its toes into spin-off games, arcade games, anime, manga, trading cards, and live-action film. It also has a bevy of marketable mascot characters, such as the omnipresent Pikachu. This popularity has led to a handful of Pokémon themed stores around Japan, known as Pokémon Centers after a location in the games. There are Pokémon Centers in both Kyoto and Osaka, giving me relatively easy access to them, so I ended up visiting the one in Kyoto just a few weeks after arriving. Kyoto's Pokémon Center has a signature mascot of a Pikachu wearing a geisha outfit, including the kimono, headdress, and makeup. Geisha are Japanese entertainers and hostesses, and while they aren't widespread in Japan today, they are prominent in Kyoto. They're a part of Kyoto's focus on traditional Japanese culture, so you can find places to view geisha performing various acts such as Noh and Kabuki dancing, musical arts, and engage with them via conversation and tea ceremony. Since the presence of geisha in the modern day is a unique aspect of Kyoto, I knew I wanted to get a plushie of this Pikachu. Aside from that, there was an onslaught of exclusive Pokémon merchandise that is hard to come across abroad or through online shopping, so it's a must-stop shop for any fan of the series- just expect to leave with your wallet noticably lighter!


Published: 9/29/22

Key words: Ashton Leigh Will visual artist graphic designer The Consulting Arts manga digital art comics comic book illustrator anime oil pencil charcoal Randolph-Macon College Ashland Virginia VA Kansai-Gaidai University Osaka Japan Kyoto Okinawa Gilman Scholarship Valutivity LLC

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