Due to Japan’s current state of emergency concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, the official Japanese Pokemon website has announced it will shut down most of its Pokemon Center stores on August 28.
The shutdown also affects the smaller stores such as the Pokemon Stores, Pokemon Cafes, and Pikachu Sweet Cafes. The state of emergency was originally going to end on August 31, but it has been extended to September 12.
The State of Emergency
Following the conclusion of the Tokyo Olympics, Japan saw an increase in coronavirus cases. While it’s difficult to say whether the Olympics were the direct cause, the facts don’t lie as hospitals are struggling with this recent surge. It’s gotten to the point where facilities are telling people with mild symptoms to stay home and ride it out.
The Japanese government decided to extend its state of emergency to over 70% of the country’s 47 prefectures to help deal with the pandemic. As stated earlier, the declaration will go on to September 12. But considering that the order has already been extended numerous times before, the state of emergency will most likely go beyond that date too.
In total, 21 stores will be closed including Pokemon Centers in the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagoya, and Osaka. The smaller Pokemon Stores found in Tokyo Station, Narita Airport, Kansai Airport, Okinawa Rycom, and more will be shut down as well.
It’s worth pointing out that an employee who worked at the Mega Tokyo branch tested positive for COVID-19.
Only the following four store locations will remain open: the Pokemon Center in Kanazawa and Pokemon Stores in Ehime, Oita, and Okayama prefectures. However, the store in Okayama is permanently closing on August 31. The few stores that will remain open are changing their hours to compensate for this change.
The official Pokemon TCG website also announced that it is canceling its card game events in the affected prefectures until restrictions are lifted.
In the meantime, the Pokemon Centers have come up with new policies to allow fans to get products during the closing. The stores have set a special lottery system for upcoming products like the V-UNION line so that fans can have their cards. They’ve also come up with a way to send out their usual birthday gifts to fans virtually.
— Brigid (@squijid) January 31, 2021
If you go to a Pokemon Center or Store in Japan on your birthday, you get a birthday gift from the location. But of course, that can no longer happen.
Japan has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. In the month of August, the country has reported over 100,000 new cases as the number continues to grow. Numerous industries have been affected and some have attracted criticism for their moves.
In case anyone is wondering how Japan’s game centers are keeping safe through COVID-19: sign cards block the controls to let you know when they have been sanitized and are safe to play, card down is waiting to be cleaned. Also, challenge the claw for hand sanitizer prizes! 👾💦 pic.twitter.com/9a3IHe6at1
— Tokyo Weekender (@Tokyo_Weekender) August 29, 2021
Takashi Watanabe, the director of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, recently criticized anime studios for remaining open during the pandemic. He claims to have heard of one studio that had to close because of a cluster of infections.
Taro Kono, the Japanese minister in charge of vaccine rollout, said on August 29 that he plans to have the nation fully vaccinated by this fall. Hopefully, the COVID cases cool off and the stores open up soon.