Nintendo’s Pokemon Go has finally launched in Japan, the
birthplace of the little virtual monsters.
Amid a flurry of social media excitement, Niantic Labs, the
software company behind the game, announced it was
“finally broadcasting” in Japan.
First released in the US, Australia and New Zealand on 6 July
and now available in more than 30 countries, the game has been a global
The Japanese launch comes with a McDonalds sponsorship deal.
Fast food restaurants were expected to be advertised as
places where people were guaranteed to find Pokemon, or as “gyms”
where players can train up their captured monsters for virtual fights.
But a McDonald’s spokesman said restaurants would “call
on players not to become a bother to customers who are eating”.
On Friday morning, excited Japanese fans began tweeting that
they had been able to start playing.
“The moment I found out the servers were up I jumped
right out of bed, got dressed and ran outside with my iPhone and two extra
battery packs,” Samuel Lucas, an Australian YouTuber based in Japan told
“So far I’ve been to the Japan post office which was my
first poke stop, and now I’m on my way to a big park near my house.”
Other Pokemon Go users didn’t have to look far, with
21-year-old fan Tomoharu Kudo finding a Charmander in his bed.
However, he soon ventured out in search of more Pokemon.
“I left my house to seek a new journey that will change
my life,” said Mr Kudo.
After weeks of stories about people in other countries
running into trouble playing the game, Japanese authorities have taken precautions
and issued a nine-point safety guide, in cartoon form.
The warnings, by the National Centre of Incident Readiness
and Strategy for Cybersecurity, included asking users to register with
“cool names that are different from real names” and cautioning them
against heatstroke as they walk around in the sun.
“I want people to abide by the warning so that people
can play it on smartphones safely,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide
Suga on Thursday.
Just a few hours after the launch, there were already reports
of an accident.
A student at Osaka’s Kindai University reportedly fell down
the stairs while playing Pokemon Go and was taking to hospital, said users on
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game on smartphones which
has millions of people worldwide obsessively capturing small creatures in
It works by showing you a picture of your real surroundings
as caught by the phone’s camera, then uses GPS to place virtual little monsters
within that picture on your screen.
The mix of virtual and real worlds allows players to, for
instance, fight a dragon circling Big Ben or chase a spaceship moving down
The monsters in it were first popular in the 1990s when they
started on the Nintendo Game Boy. Back then, trading cards were a huge hit in
school playgrounds and the new game manages to build on that legacy.