When you hear Pokémon, you might think of one of two things. First, this franchise defined your childhood, and you’re still a fan all these years later. Or, your child is obsessed with the universe and constantly talks about the characters, games, shows, and Pokemon regions.
Don’t brush it off as just cards or video games if it’s the latter. In addition to encouraging reading, math, and strategy skills, Pokemon can also be a tool to introduce your children to countries worldwide. If you’re looking to plan a vacation to a destination that the whole family will enjoy, here are Pokemon regions and landmarks that you can visit IRL.
A Parents’ Quick Guide to Pokemon
The first Pokémon games, Pokémon Red and Blue, were released in 1996, but the franchise is such a success that new versions of Pokémon come out almost every year. The central premise is to catch these creatures with magical attack moves known as Pokémon. Players try to catch as many different Pokémon as possible to complete their log, referred to as a Pokédex.
Throughout their journeys in Pokemon regions, players (or trainers, as they are called in-game) level up their Pokémon through tournaments. Then, players put their training to the test by fighting against eight different gym leaders to earn badges. Finally, after they’ve earned all their badges, trainers can compete in the final Pokémon League to face the best of the best, like a Pokémon Olympics.
Trainers travel to different towns and routes across these Pokemon regions to complete their Pokédex and earn their next badge. With each new game released, more Pokemon regions are introduced with brand new characters, gyms, and new places to explore.
Pokémon creators took inspiration from the physical world and incorporated them into the games. Each of the Pokemon regions is based on cities and towns all over the globe. So if you’re looking to plan a family vacation that’s met with more enthusiasm and less complaining, incorporate stops and tours at the landmarks your Pokemon fan will recognize from its game universe.
8 Pokémon Regions and Landmarks You Can Visit
The Kanto Region
Featured in Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, FireRed, LeafGreen, Let’s Go, Pikachu!, and Let’s Go, Eevee!
Based on the identically named Japanese city Kantō, this is the first region introduced in the Pokémon franchise.
- Tokyo Metropolis – It’s no surprise that the capital of Japan influenced the two most bustling cities in the games, Celadon and Saffron City. Tokyo is also home to the first and largest Pokémon Center retail store, where shoppers can purchase Poké merchandise you can’t find at home, like stuffed animals, clothing, and everything in between.
- Mount Akagi – Mt. Moon is where players go to catch a Clefairy and battle Team Rocket, but Mount Akagi is an actual mountain in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. Take a break from the fast-paced city and enjoy hiking through the beautiful landscape.
- Machida, Tokyo – Machida is a city located in the western part of Tokyo. In the game, players start in Pallet Town, where they choose their first Pokémon. Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon and the current CEO of Game Freak, based Pallett Town on his hometown of Machida. Take a day trip to this smaller and less touristy spot in Japan to enjoy local parks, cafes, temples and shrines, and even the Machida Squirrel Garden.
The Johto Region
Featured in Pokémon Gold, Silver, Crystal, HeartGold, and SoulSilver
The Johto region is primarily based in Western Japan, highlighting the Kansai region with elements of Chūbu and Shikoku. You can take a bullet train to reach these cities if you’re in Tokyo. Also, watch for Nintendo’s Global Headquarters outside of Kyoto, which can be spotted during the train journey.
- Osaka – Osaka was the inspiration for Goldenrod City. It is the largest city in the Johto region and one of the largest cities in the Pokémon world. The city boasts the Goldenrod Radio Tower, the city’s Department Store, Game Corner, Name Rater, Magnet Train, Global Terminal, and a gym in the games. All of which, except the Pokémon Gym, are actual Osaka buildings.
- Kyoto – It’s known as Japan’s cultural and historical capital with traditional temples, shrines, gardens, geisha, shops, historical-style restaurants, and festivals. Ecruteak City is based on Kyoto. Landmarks within the game that you can visit in Kyoto are Bell Tower (Kinkaku-ji and Tō-ji) and Burned Tower (Kinkaku-ji and Tō-ji).
- Mount Fuji – The Johto region’s Mt. Silver is inspired by Japan’s tallest peak. After trainers complete the game, they’re granted permission to travel to Mt. Silver, where wild Pokémon are stronger. If you can’t make a separate trip, Mount Fuji can also be seen from the bullet train to Kyoto.
The Hoenn Region
Featured in Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire
Hoenn’s features are based on southern Japan’s main island Kyushu and the surrounding islands. If you look at the map of Hoenn, it closely resembles Kyushu turned counterclockwise. So when looking for these landmarks on the map with your Pokemon fan, remember to make this quick adjustment.
- Okinawa Island – Okinawa is known as the “Hawaii of Japan” and the birthplace of karate. Ever Grande City is based on this tropical island featuring crystal blue water and rich greenery in the games. The Pokémon League building in this region also resembles Shurijo Castle.
- Tanegashima – One of the last towns that trainers explore in this region is Mossdeep City. A digital version of the Tanegashima Space Center, the Mossdeep Space Center, is also a popular tourist spot.
- Hashima Island – In the game, trainers come across an abandoned ship, S.S. Cactus, or Sea Mauville (depending on the game.) This ship is inspired by Hashima Island (also known as Gunkanjima or Battleship Island), an abandoned offshore mining facility that visitors can take a ferry out to see.
The Sinnoh Region
Featured in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Brilliant Diamond, Shining Pearl, and Legends: Arceus
Like the previous three Pokemon regions, Sinnoh is also based on Japan. Its geography is inspired by Japan’s second-largest and northernmost island, Hokkaido.
- Biei Town and Furano City – Floaroma Town is known for bright and vivid rows of flower beds. That’s precisely what Biei Town and Furano City are known for. Visitors can take a trip and frolic through vibrant flower fields. Just make sure your trip is in the Spring when the flowers bloom.
- Lake Tōya, Lake Kussharo, and Lake Kutcharo – In the game, trainers can catch the legendary trio of lake guardians Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf at Lakes Verity, Valor, and Acuity based on these three real-life lakes. Like the games, each of the lakes has smaller islands, making the connection almost instant for Pokemon fans.
- Kushiro Shitsugen National Park – Visiting a real-life Safari Zone is possible at this national park. For context, the Safari Zone is where trainers can catch rare Pokémon only found in this zone. The park is mainly known for its wetland ecosystem. It’s also near Lake Kussharo, just as the Great Marsh Safari Zone is close to Lake Valor.
The Unova Region
Featured in Pokémon Black and White Versions 1 and 2
One of the Pokemon regions took inspiration outside of Japan for the first time. Unova is based on one of the most popular vacation spots in the world, New York City.
- New York City – The game’s Castelia City mimics Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. Key features that directly tie the Unova region to the Big Apple are Central Park (Entralink), New York Botanical Garden (Pokémon League), Grand Central Station, and Penn Station (both inspirations for Gear Station).
- The Broadway District – In the game, players can dress up their Pokémon with different props and participate in the Pokémon Musical. You may not find Pikachu belting on a New York Broadway stage, but you can walk this iconic street and take it all in without buying expensive show tickets.
- Brooklyn Bridge – Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is a popular tourist activity when visiting New York City. Trainers walk across an almost identically structured virtual bridge in the games (Skyarrow Bridge), turning what could be seen as a boring walk for kids into something exciting for Pokemon fans.
The Kalos Region
Featured in Pokémon X and Y
The creators of the Kalos region took a European vacation to northern and metropolitan France for this game.
- Paris – This region’s Lumiose City takes inspiration from Paris. The in-game name of the city is a play on the French word for light, la lumière, incorporating the city’s nickname, The City of Lights. When visiting the Eiffel Tower, don’t be surprised if your Pokemon fan refers to its in-game name, The Prism Tower.
- Notre-Dame de Paris – While you’re visiting Paris, you can stop by this iconic Pokémon landmark without the typical tour complaints from kids. Notre Dame served as the inspiration for the Kalos Pokémon League, so you’ll know gamers will be interested.
- Palace of Versailles – Pokémon games often feature museums trainers can visit. Just as the Palace of Versailles was a former royal residence converted into a museum, so is Parfum Palace. In-game and real-life, museum-goers can observe paintings, sculptures, and other artwork.
The Alola Region
Featured in Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon
Say “aloha!” to Alola. A play on words in itself, Alola’s tropical climate is based on The Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii has long been a popular vacation spot for families. Add a very long list of Pokemon landmarks you can visit across Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and The Big Island, and you’ve got even more of a reason to explore these stunning islands.
- Honolulu – Along with serving as the state capital of Hawaii, it also inspired the similarly named Hau’oli City in the Alola region. This virtual beachside city resembles its real-life counterpart with sandy beaches and palm trees alongside towering buildings.
- Dole Plantation – Trainers come across the Berry fields to fight off a few of the game’s antagonists during the storyline. When exploring the fields, you may notice that it resembles the Dole Plantation on a smaller scale. IRL, your group can get the iconic Disney parks’ Dole Whip and fruit as fresh as it comes.
- Banzai Pipeline/Sunset Beach – What’s a visit to Oahu without a day trip to the North Shore? The Banzai Pipeline is the real-life inspiration for Big Wave Beach. Check out where the greatest surfers in the world come to catch some waves and where Pokemon trainers travel in the game.
- Oheʻo Gulch – The island of Maui is turned counterclockwise in the game but essentially is a copy of The Valley Isle. It’s pretty easy to see Brooklet Hill, a pool series that serves as the best fishing spot on the Alola region map. If you need another reason to drive the iconic Road To Hana, you can see these Seven Sacred Pools in real life near Pīpīwai Trail.
- Grand Wailea Resort – The inspiration for the Hano Grand Resort, both of these 5-star hotels are known for being the biggest and best on the Island and often sell out months in advance. Bring your Pokemon player for a special lunch or dinner if you’re staying in other Maui resort towns like Kihei or Kannapali.
- Wailua River State Park – If you’re looking to explore a park in Kauai that will be met with enthusiasm and no complaints, you have a lot of Pokemon landmarks to choose from on The Garden Isle. For example, Wailua River State Park is the inspiration for the Ruins of Hope, a spiritually significant place for Tapu Fini. Native Hawaiians also recognize these protected lands as containing several important ancient temples.
The Galar Region
Featured in Pokémon Sword and Shield
The Galar region is a homage to English, Scottish, and Wales’ lush geography and architecture. It’s the only one of the Pokemon regions with an official tour guide from The Pokemon Company to key in-game and real-life locations. Eagle-eyed players will recognize the Galar region map as Great Britain flipped upside down.
- London – Wyndon is the largest city in the Galar region and incorporates elements from England’s iconic capital city. In Wyndon, players will find not-so-subtle nods to famous London landmarks such as the London Eye (Galar Hurricane) and Palace of Westminster (Rose of the Rondelands), which houses Big Ben. The shopping district in Wyndon is even modeled after Piccadilly Circus. In addition, you can take the group to an original football game at Wembley Stadium, the inspiration for Wyndon Stadium.
- Edinburgh and Scottish Highlands – The game designers incorporated the U.K.’s medieval architecture into Galar region buildings. For example, Freezington was inspired by Edinburgh. So, take a tour of Edinburgh Castle to see the inspiration for Crown Shrine or explore the Scottish Highlands to see its resemblance to the Crown Tundra.
- Isle of Man – In The Isle of Armor expansion to Pokémon Sword and Shield, trainers can travel to new areas that resemble the Isle of Man. So hop on the Ferry and explore it for yourself.
Which ones of these Pokemon Regions do you plan to visit first?
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.