My sons grew up in the 1990’s when the Pokémon craze was at its height. Over the years they amassed a sizeable collection of Pokémon trading cards and Nintendo games and my daughter has since developed an interest in Pikachu and all the other Pocket Monsters.
When I told her we were going to Japan for a holiday, the Pokémon Center in Shiodome Shibarikyu Building, Minato-ku, Tokyo was promptly added to the itinerary, along with Disneyland and all the other child-centric attractions that I have been writing about recently.
I could never really understand Pokémon. All I know is the characters seem to spend a lot of time battling and evolving. Still, judging by the crowd at the store, it seems to remain very popular in Japan.
I thought the Pokémon Center might be a kind of theme park but it’s really just a shop selling stacks of plastic and plush toys and other Pokémon collectables.
More my cup of tea is the Hamarikyu Garden, a very attractive park located across the road from the Shiodome. The very first stone-built western style building in Japan once stood here in the early Meiji era. It was used to entertain visiting foreign guests, among them General Ulysses S. Grant.
This building was demolished in 1889 and its replacement was reduced to ashes in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The garden was further damaged by bombing during WWII.
Hamarikyu has been a public park since 1946. Today it is overlooked by towering glass office blocks but it serves as a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of modern Tokyo. In traditional Japanese fashion it is planted to look splendid all year round with maples and gingkos providing autumn foliage and cherry and plum blossoms to give colour in the spring.
Here some young ladies are showing off their summer kimonos.