Three of the prefectures slammed by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami are getting a significant boost in efforts to revive tourism from an invisible source — a Pokemon character.
The Lapras, a rare, plesiosaur-like monster in the “Pokemon Go” game, is popping up more often near the coasts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, the maker of the popular augmented-reality smartphone game tweeted Friday.
The announcement by Niantic Inc. could help draw more tourists to the Tohoku region since the disasters triggered the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that turned cities there into ghost towns.
A public relations agency for the U.S. game maker confirmed the tweet in its “Pokemon Go” Japan account, which said the spurt of Lapras appearances may last until Nov. 23.
The move came after the three prefectures, as well as quake-hit Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, jointly said in August they would work with the Japanese unit of Niantic to encourage more people to visit and spur on their recoveries.
More than 10,000 followers liked the tweet and at least 25,000 have retweeted it since the announcement was made. “Really!? Thank you very much,” one tweet said.
The frenzy sparked by “Pokemon Go,” however, has also created some social problems, including incidents of trespassing and reckless driving that have caused three traffic deaths so far.
“I think it would be better not to make (Lapras) appear in typhoons or stormy weather near the coasts. It’s dangerous,” another fan tweeted.