Coming to the Japanese island of Okinawa this August, the first full Pokémon Center on the island will open, complete with its own mascot and promotions. An Arcanine and Pikachu (as seen above in a conceptual image of what the statue will look like) will guard the entrance to the new store, and greet Trainers at the Pokémon Center Okinawa.
The Logo for Pokémon Center Okinawa:
The new Pokémon Center will be housed on the site of the old Pokémon Store at Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, which will remain closed from now until the remodeled Pokémon Room opens. The area is said to have Pokémon TCG facilities and a video area showing Pokémon-related… well, videos.
Arcanine is a very interesting choice as the store’s mascot, as the Pokémon is said to be based on Shisa, a traditional Ryukyuan statue of a creature that’s a hybrid of a lion and a dog found throughout Okinawa.
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Shisa are believed to protect dwellings from evil creatures, with the open-mouthed Shisa to keep evil spirits away and the closed-mouthed Shisa to keep good spirits back (noticeable to outsiders) with an open mouth Arcanine and the statue in the shop with a closed mouth.
This connection, although never officially explained, became increasingly clear Pokémon Legends: Arceus with the introduction of Hisuian Arcanines, which look very much like komainu – the mainland Shinto version of the Shisa, both of which have historical roots and similar meanings.
Pokémon Center Okinawa scheduled to open in August, with more details to be announced at a later date.
Daryl Harding is the Japan correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazzaand posts photos from his travels on Instagram.