National / Social Issues

Japanese tourist sites on alert following 'Pokemon Go' launch

Kyodo

Following Friday’s launch of the “Pokemon Go” game in Japan, managers of tourist sites and summer festivals nationwide expressed concerns about distracted players chasing down the virtual monsters that the game places on their smartphone screens.

In Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, warning signs were posted Saturday at two places in the Tomioka Silk Mill, a UNESCO World Heritage site, cautioning players to respect off-limit areas, those around them and avoid accidents.

The silk mill is said to contain six places where Pokemon players can find virtual items related to the game.

“We haven’t seen any troubles so far,” on official said. “But we hope people will not damage cultural properties by inadvertently bumping into them” while playing the game.

A 28-year-old man from Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, who was visiting the mill with office colleagues, said, “I get distracted when concentrating too much on the game. I need to remain watchful.”

In the ancient capital of Kyoto, organizers of the famed monthlong Gion Matsuri used placards to warn players to be careful while in the streets because floats decorated with elaborate ornaments were being readied for the festival.

A 26-year-old man from the city of Tochigi, who was playing the game at a crossing some distance away from the floats, said, “I’m playing here because it’s dangerous to be near where floats are located.”

Major shrine complexes, such as Izumo Grand Shrine in Shimane Prefecture and Kotohira-gu in Kagawa Prefecture, posted bans on the game on their websites. Alerts were also periodically broadcast over the public address systems of the religious compounds.

A 24-year-old man from Chiba Prefecture who was playing the game near one of the torii at a shrine in Mie Prefecture, said he agreed with the concerns.

“Ise Grand Shrine isn’t a playground in the first place,” the man said before entering the shrine compound after slipping his smartphone into a pocket. “It’s good that (the game) is banned inside the premises.”

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