Happy New Years!
New Years Eve has come and gone and here in Japan it’s already Monday the 4th and people are getting ready to go back to work after their New Years break. My New Years weekend (Friday / Saturday) was mainly devoted to the Pokemon Center and spending time with my husband’s family and it was both fun and exhausting.
We woke up Nope, I stayed awake all night from New Years Eve to January 1st! Because of the Japanese tradition of going to visit the shrines for the very first shrine visit of the year,
the trains were running on a weirdly sporadic schedule. This meant we could get to the Center earlier than usual, and so we hopped on the 4:15 am train and arrived in Ikebukuro a little before 5 am.
When we arrived, there was already a small line of people outside the Center in the mall, and we were roughly 20 people back from the front.
By the time the Center was getting ready to open close to 10 am, the line had grown substantially, making our position near the front even better. Being near the front on very busy days like these is one of my game plans, not just to be first, but also because when you are first, it’s easier to beeline directly for what you want, grab it, and get into the check out line before it becomes a huge mess.
One of the big sellers for the day were these lucky bags. Called “fukubukuro” in Japanese, these “mystery bags” are a Japanese New Years custom, originating from the late Meiji period by the Ginza Matsuya department store, and is now a staple of most stores, even including restaurants like Mister Donut. I didn’t realize at the time, but these Pokemon lucky bags were only available at the Mega Tokyo Center, which also explains why they sold out so quickly! Each bag cost 5,000 yen and contained over 10,000 yen’s worth of merchandise. From casually observing other people opening their bags at the Centeras well as seeing their reports on Twitter, although the specifics differed from bag to bag, every one contained:
1 Pikachu Poncho Plush
1 box of playing cards
1 large item (large plush, table, etc.)
At least 1 clearfile
1 mascot plush
1 Pikachu ear headband
… and several other items.
(These bags really put the “lucky” in “lucky bag”!)
Another popular item was the special card box sets, offered with either a main Mega Charizard X or Mega Charizard Y Poncho Pikachu theme. It was not unusual to see people walking around the store with a basket full of 3-5 of each box.
Four types of card sleeves also went on sale, although I don’t have photos of them as they were sold directly at the cash registers. (Thankfully!)
The special New Years Monthly Pikachu plush was yet another very popular item, with people grabbing as many of them off the shelves as possible as soon as the horde was unleashed into the store.
With all the pandemonium going on, it was easy to miss the Pokemon Market promotion, which the Pokemon Center decided to release on New Years Day for reasons I don’t understand.
The line-up is very cute, but I had to go back on a different day to get photos of most of the items as New Years was simply too crowded and chaotic. (Pictured: actual chaos.)
My favorite part from this promotion is the Jigglypuff, mainly because of his little quote: “I have a lot of foods I want to get…” As do I, little Jigglypuff.
This Jigglypuff and his amusing quote are on a bunch of items, including dice bags, hand towels, and a placemat, among others.
With a main graphic like that, it’s not so surprising a lot of the items in the line-up were food related, like this fork and spoon set
Cute bento boxes
A little bag to carry said bento boxes in
And stackable cups, packaged in these incredibly adorable boxes!
Seriously, look at this box. So cute.
Not food related, but maybe one of the nicest items from the promotion, a watch! When you want to be stylish and cute and also keep the time, in an old-fashioned way.
Part 2 of the Pikachu Mega Campaign began on New Years Day, and with it, the distribution start for the second batch of little Poncho Pikachu art cards. The second batch features the same Pokemon as in batch 1, but in slightly different poses. The concept is the same: for every 2,000 yen spent at the Center, you get a blind packaged pack of 2 little cards. If you manage to pull a Rayquaza Pikachu, you get a bonus prize of a mini card holder to store all the cards in.
I managed to pull the Rayquaza Pikachu not once, but twice (first time on New Years and again yesterday) and won 2 mini binders.
The binders offered for round 2 feature all of the different Poncho Pikachus, as opposed to the original mini binder which only had Rayquaza Pikachu on both the front and back.
May 2016 be full of even more cute Pokemon merchandise (and also please give me a Mega Lopunny Poncho Pikachu Plush, Pokemon Gods!)