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Japan's 1st Pokemon-themed park opens in disaster-hit Fukushima Pref. town

Many people are seen at Lucky Park in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 12, 2021. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)=Click/tap photo for more images.

NAMIE, Fukushima -- Japan's first park featuring playground equipment themed on characters from the popular anime and game series "Pokemon" opened on Dec. 12 in this northeast Japan town.

    At "Lucky Park," named after the Japanese name of Pokemon character Chansey, smiling children were seen running around on the opening day.

    The Pokemon Company and the Fukushima Prefectural Government signed a partnership agreement in February 2019 for the purpose of earthquake disaster reconstruction and tourism promotion.

    Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri's father is from the town of Namie, which was struck by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and following incidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The Pokemon Company donated six pieces of playground equipment to the town, including a 6-meter-tall complex play set with the motif of Chansey, who is a "Fukushima support Pokemon," a swing with the motifs of Chansey and Wingull and a slide featuring Lickitung. The Namie Municipal Government spent some 17 million yen (about $150,000) to create the park on the grounds of Roadside Station Namie.

    All residents of the town were evacuated after the nuclear accident. While the evacuation order was lifted in the eastern part of the town in spring 2017, many residents are still evacuated, and only 31 students -- about 2% of the number before the 2011 disasters -- have come back to elementary and junior high schools in the town.

    A child is seen on the Lickitung slide at Lucky Park in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 12, 2021. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)=Click/tap photo for more images.

    In a speech during a ceremony ahead of the park's opening, Mayor Kazuhiro Yoshida said, "We'd like to dedicate all our strength to promote relocation and settlement by improving various tourism programs such as Lucky Park and expanding the number of visitors so that they think, 'I want to visit Namie and live here.'"

    Pokemon Company corporate officer Taku Kawamoto said, "Lucky is a Pokemon character that brings happiness. I want people to play a lot at this park and bring a lot of happiness to the town of Namie."

    The company plans to donate similar playground equipment to the city of Koriyama, the town of Yanaizu and the village of Showa in the same prefecture starting next spring, and said that it is also considering installing such facilities in other prefectures in the future.

    (Japanese original by Tatsuro Tamaki, Fukushima Bureau, and Shuji Ozaki, Minamisoma Local Bureau)

    In Photos: Japan's 1st Pokemon-themed park opens in Fukushima Pref.

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