A Photographic Guide to the 6 Coolest Things at Pokemon Go Fest Yokohama

Take a virtual tour of the Japanese Pokemon Go Fest with this photo diary!

Go Fest Yokohama was on fire. Well, at least it was so hot outside that players spent most of the day huddled under shady trees, shielded by their free paper Pikachu visors. About every 15 minutes, warning messages in both English and Japanese played on the intercom, disclosing that the event may end early if Yokohama-area officials deemed the threat of heat stroke too dangerous to host an all-day outdoor event. For days leading up to the event, I received push notifications from the Pokemon Go app reminding me to drink enough water at Go Fest.

But let’s not just talk about the weather — despite the heat, Go Fest was pretty cool. I went ahead and cataloged the event with a whole mess of pictures and some on-site reporting! To that end, here are six of the most interesting experiences at the first day of the six-day event. And be sure to check through the galleries of images from the event itself.

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1. The Trading Culture

For the most serious Pokemon Go players, a complete Pokédex doesn’t just mean catching them all — it means catching every variation of every Pokemon with multiple forms like Unown, Spinda, or Shellos; it means hunting for every shiny Pokemon in the game, a feat that the 1-in-400 odds are stacked against; it means retaining “legacy” Pokemon, which have movesets that are no longer available in the game. So, of course, a gathering of hundreds of dedicated trainers from around the world is a great opportunity to find the most obscure Pokemon in existence. But it’s not realistic to run around the park yelling “I’m looking for a shiny Solrock!” Many trainers got creative and carried signs around the event, instead.

Over the course of the event, several players came up to me asking if I could trade them region-exclusive Pokemon from the Americas, but the joke’s on them — after spending the last year in Asia, I’m still on the hunt for a pink Shellos myself… Although I did manage to trade a Torkoal for a Shiny Cresselia! I’d call it a solid use of 500,000 stardust.

2. Hunting for Rare Pokemon

After three years of dedicated play, I still haven’t managed to find an Unown in Pokemon Go. I even subscribed to Discord channels that gave me push notifications every time an Unown spawned in my area, but was never in the right place at the right time. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve actually had dreams about discovering a wild Unown. But at Go Fest, my dreams of finding the elusive Pokemon finally came true!

The Unown at Go Fest Yokohama spelled out “WAKE UP!”: a reference to the upcoming Pokemon Sleep game, which will… track your sleep patterns to train Pokemon? Hm.

My shiny hunting luck wasn’t as great, by comparison, but hey! I was just happy to be there. Shiny Poliwag made its debut at Go Fest Yokohama. Other sought-after shinies like Drifloon, Clamperl, and Feebas were spawning as well. I walked away with two shiny “flower crown” Pikachu, a shiny Natu, a shiny Tailow, and the aforementioned shiny Cresselia I traded for. I’ll take what I can get.

Another Go Fest-exclusive rare spawn was Chatot, which is only available in the southern hemisphere. Plus the park was split into unique habitats for Water-, Flying-, and Ice-type Pokemon, allowing uncommon creatures like Alolan Vulpix, Finneon, and Lotad to appear. The ice biome was a bit ironic, of course, considering the weather.

3. The Quest to Catch Jirachi

As of now, the only way to catch the mythical Pokemon Jirachi is to attend Go Fest. The small yet mighty star-shaped Pokemon debuted in June at Go Fest Chicago. Then they returned for Go Fest Dortmund, so going into Go Fest Yokohama, I knew I would have a Jirachi by the end of the day. But I didn’t anticipate how time-consuming and grind-intensive the research quest would actually be. In Pokemon Go, a game where it’s not surprising or difficult to encounter a player with more Mewtwo than Mareep, it’s refreshing when legendary and mythical Pokemon are actually rare.

The quest posed tasks like “Catch eight different species of Water-type Pokemon,” but the map was so crowded with pocket monsters that it was hard to see what species were around at all. Not to mention I couldn’t remember which species I’d caught in the last half-hour or so. But the most complicated aspect of the Jirachi quest was to take snapshots of Pokemon like Tailow, Snorunt, and Lotad in their respective biomes. That seems easy enough, but the game didn’t just mean walking over to the Ice-type lures. Oh no. You had to stand in front of the inflatable decorations and take actual snapshots.

I don’t know how this technology worked. I assume the inflatables were involved, because my task wouldn’t register as complete until the life-size Pokemon were in view. And even then, it took many tries to get it right. Regardless, it’s a pretty clever and interactive way to deter GPS spoofers from cheating their way to a Jirachi!

4. Spotting Familiar Faces

If you’ve ever searched anything Pokemon-related on YouTube, then you’ve probably heard of prolific content-creators like Trainer Tips, MYSTIC7, and Pokemon Master Holly, who make a living off of their Pokemon Go vlogs (can you imagine?). Sure enough, the usual gaggle of YouTubers was at Go Fest, hunting for new shinies. It was like the time I saw Ariana Grande at a movie theater.

It may seem like a dream job to play Pokemon for a living, but by the end of the hot, sweaty day, I could barely fathom just uploading some pictures. Props to those folks for editing 20-minute videos that night.

And sure, the YouTubers might be strong trainers, but fans also got to meet the one, the only: Professor Willow! (and, of course, Blanche — go Team Mystic!).

5. Pika-mania!

With Pikachu Outbreak taking place in Yokohama at the same time as Pokemon Go Fest, the crowd was decked out in full Pika-merch Tokyo’s popular Pokemon Cafe — where people make reservations months in advance to eat Pokemon-shaped foods — rolled up in a pop-up truck at the park, selling Pikachu-shaped ice pops and juice to help cool fans down. It probably wasn’t the smartest financial decision to spend 500 yen (about $5 USD) on pineapple juice in a Pikachu cup, but hey. When at Go Fest…

6. The Lack of Team Rocket?

After a Team Rocket hot air balloon was spotted at Go Fest Dortmund, I was positive that something Rocket related would go down at Go Fest Yokohama. I would have put money on it (the 500 yen I spent on Pikachu juice, to be exact) — especially given the amount of nefarious activity in the game recently.

Every time a “remember to drink water” announcement played over the intercom, I waited anxiously for the mic to be snatched by Team Rocket, but… Nothing happened. Rocket boss Giovanni photobombed some Go snapshots, but I didn’t even realize it during the event. Although I did encounter much cuter and more wholesome photobombs, courtesy of Jigglypuff and Loudred. I guess we just have to stay on our toes and keep battling Rocket Grunts until the next Pokemon Go update.

If you weren’t fortunate enough to attend Go Fest this year, don’t worry! Just play along this week through Aug. 12 for special field research tasks and increased global spawns of Pokemon appearing at Go Fest.

In fact, we’re putting up guides on how to catch various new and returning Pokemon (like Raqyuaza and those misunderstood Shadow Pokemon) throughout our site. Be sure to check those out for tips on when, where, and how to catch rare creatures — as well as their shiny varieties. Until then, good luck and take care out there!