How 'Pokemon' Infuses Itself With the Real World
Many Poké-places of interest are based on real landmarks.
The Pokémon franchise has always been linked to the real world in some way, with inspiration from real places like Japan, France, and the United States. The cities, the world’s inhabitants, the natural features, and even the Pokémon themselves all draw from these real-life influences. And Pokémon Sun and Moon look to continue that tradition. With that in mind, it’s worth taking a look back at some of the ways in which the Pokémon games embrace the real world.
The first Pokémon region, Kanto, is almost identical to the Greater Tokyo Area. It is a region driven by technology and urban sprawl, as evidenced by Celadon City (Tokyo proper) and its towering department store or Cinnabar Island’s (Izu Ōshima) eerie laboratories. And Vermillion City draws inspiration from the Tokyo area’s major seaport, Yokohama.
Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal’s region has more of a historic vibe. In fact, it’s drawn directly from Japan’s Kansai region — home to Kyoto and Nara, two of the country’s most historic cities.
Ecruteak City is a close copy of Kyoto city with its dancing performers, ancient architecture, and historical towers based on Kyoto’s Golden and Silver Pavillions. Nearby Olivine City is Pokémon’s equivalent of Kobe, famous for its international port and fine beef.
Kyushu was the perfect inspiration for Generation III’s Hoenn region. Famous for its sub-tropical islands and volcanoes, Kyushu matches Hoenn’s affinity for water and fire. Ever Grande City, home of the Elite Four, is based on beautiful Okinawa. Meanwhile the adorably named Mount Chimney is the Pokémon equivalent of Mount Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano (which actually erupted in recent years, blanketing the region in smoke).
Sinnoh is the last region in the Pokémon universe based on Japan, and this time we’re heading northward to the cooler region of Hokkaido. Modern Jubilife City is much like Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest urban center, TV tower and all. Mount Coronet, meanwhile, mimics the Ezo Mountain Range, one of Japan’s biggest skiing destinations.
Pokémon Black and White’s Unova takes us to a land not unlike the New York City area and its surrounding suburbs. Skyarrow Bridge is an obvious connection to the Brooklyn Bridge, while Nimbasa City stands in for Midtown Manhattan with its neon lights and huge stadium.
Kalos is quite clearly linked to France and the British Isles. The region is replete with gothic cathedrals and little bistros and cafes with al fresco dining. Lumiose City is Poké-Paris with its cobbled avenues, high-end fashion boutiques, and Prism Tower watching over the city.
And so we come to the Alola region, the newest area in Pokémon for us to explore. If you’ve played the demo, then you already know that Pokémon Sun and Moon ooze Hawaii, from the soundtrack to the beautiful setting to the characters’ personalities.
We don’t know a whole lot about many of the cities and points of interest in the newest set of games, but there are a few direct connections to real Hawaii there. Ten Carat Hill, which features in the demo, is said to be modeled after Diamond Head, while Melemele Island itself is derived from Oahu.
So there you have it. One of the wonderful things about Pokémon is that it draws inspiration from our world but then is able to make something wholly new out of it. Pokémon games don’t always have the strongest stories, but it’s always exciting to explore the different regions and their diverse environs.