Were you caught in the Pokémon craze growing up? Saturday morning anime definitely had a hand in kick-starting my interest in travelling around Japan, and if Pokémon inspired tourism is your thing you’re in luck. All the way across Japan you’ll find prefectures adopting mascots to catch the interest of both international and domestic fans. Every year it seems a new Pokémon claims it’s territory in a new prefecture, and the potential Pokémon themed tour of Japan is getting longer than a Mega Rayquaza.
So who’s that Pokémon in the spotlight this time? It’s none other than…. Wait for it… Slowpoke! The beloved pink water/psychic type with a penchant for painfully delayed reactions, and similarly slow wits. But I shouldn’t slow-shame the Slowpoke resident to Kagawa prefecture too much, since they’ve been diligently doing their part for tourism for more than three years at this point.
Things started off with the loose connection between Slowpoke’s Japanese name (Yadon) and the region’s speciality udon noodles, mainly because they sound very similar. It’s been enough to keep Slowpokes in work since 2018 as an udon PR team.
Beyond that Slowpoke has been uncharacteristically busy, featuring in a huge range of different goods produced in Kagawa. We’ve seen everything from mittens to puzzles, but my favourite has to be the ‘Yadon no Shippoteto’, a pun on Slowpoke tail potato chips (Shippo is tail, and poteto is…potato).
The unusually dynamic Slowpoke of Kagawa are back in the news thanks to a recent press conference in late March, where it was announced that the Pokémon would be lending a hand with the mail in Takamatsu city.
Thankfully that doesn’t mean that the postal service is going to be arriving five years late. Instead there’s been a specially made post-box added outside the city post office, decorated with a mix of Slowpoke and their evolutions, udon noodles, cherry blossoms and landmarks from the area. Around the back there’s even a Shelder trying a grab a bite of one of the noodles hanging down, a fun reference to the two Pokémon’s connection in the games and anime.
The Pokémon Company and Kagawa government office also unveiled a postal van following the same theme, which looks really adorable. This hasn’t actually been the first time official vehicles have been decked out with Pokémon themes this year, but this neat little van isn’t as dramatic as the Exeggutor planes which took off back around January.
If you do visit the post office in Takamatsu city, be sure to collect a souvenir stamp! Even the stamp features Kagawa’s special udon and going back to that meal so much is starting to make me hungry.
If you didn’t know already, the Pokémon Company has been helping to supply locations all over Japan with manhole covers (Or Pokélids). In fact, Kyoto received their new Pokélids just a few days ago, featuring monsters like Ho-oh, Pichu and Darmanitan. You can guess which Pokémon gets pride of place in Kagawa though! The region is certainly Slowpoke town.
Image source: PR Times