Pokemon Go finally comes home to Japan

Eager Japanese rushed to their phones on Friday to start hunting as Pokemon GO was launched in the country where it was first created.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Japanese people have waited weeks for launch of smash-hit game.

Eager Japanese Pokemon fans rushed to their phones on Friday to start hunting as Pokemon GO, the hit smartphone game, finally launched in Japan -- the home of the colorful cartoon characters.

The game has been an unexpected runaway success from Spain to Australia but Japan had been made to wait as the developers behind the game sought to ensure servers could withstand the game's popularity.

Finally, after days of rumors and anticipation, it launched on Friday.

"Everyone was talking about why we couldn't do it here, since Pokemon is Japanese," said Maho Ishikawa, a 16-year-old high school student who said she had already captured a monster. "Since I really wanted to play, I'm very, very glad."

In a video address to Japanese fans, Junichi Masuda, head of development at Game Freak and co-creator of the game, apologized for keeping players waiting so long.

"From today you can go out and find Pokemon to your heart's content," he said. "We hope the game enables users to see the world in a new, fulfilling way. Obey the rules and have fun."

University students in Tokyo on their last day of classes before summer holidays did just that, jumping into the fray within moments of the launch, capturing monsters as a frenzy erupted between classes.

"This game is just as I imagined it to be, it's really fun," said Toshinori Ishibashi, 18, who was seen playing the game near a Pokemon goods store in Tokyo Station. "It's also a great reason to go outside, so I'm really enjoying it."

Students play Pokemon Go on their mobile phone in front of a busy crossing in Shibuya district in Tokyo.

The game was created by Nintendo, Niantic and Pokemon Co, partly-owned by Nintendo. 

The game has enthralled players and boosted investors' view of Nintendo's future, as they bet the group can cash in on a treasure chest of other lucrative cartoon characters, from Donkey Kong to Super Mario.

But the game has also prompted warnings, as players glued to their phones become prone to tripping over, crashing cars, getting mugged or wandering into dangerous places.

Fallout from the Pokemon craze started to surface immediately in Japan, as on Twitter user shared  this tweet that asked players to be careful around a shrine.

The Japanese government on Thursday became the latest to issue a safety warning. The country's National Center for Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) told users of the mobile game not to use their real names and warned them about the risks of heat stroke in the muggy Japanese summer.

TRTWorld, Reuters