The maker of “Pokemon Go” is now trying to draw visitors to quake-hit Kumamoto and Oita prefectures by increasing appearances made by a popular character in the hit smartphone game.
The Snorlax, called Kabigon in Japan, will soon appear more often across Kumamoto and in the cities of Yufu and Beppu in Oita, Niantic Inc. tweeted Thursday under its “Pokemon Go” Japan account.
Sightings of the big-bellied character are likely to surge from Saturday through March 13, Niantic said.
But it also warned players of the augmented-reality game to avoid ongoing reconstruction work from last April’s quakes.
“Enjoy Kumamoto and Oita without going to dangerous places,” the tweet said.
“We hope the game event will provide an opportunity for people to visit quake-hit areas and find out how things are going,” a spokeswoman for the U.S. company confirmed by phone.
The tweet, which has been retweeted more than 12,000 times, had earned more than 7,500 likes as of Friday but was criticized as insensitive by some because Snorlax has an attack move called “earthquake.”
The spokeswoman said the event was organized “after taking into consideration various factors.”
The move follows a similar one last November that saw the rare Lapras monster appear more often near the coasts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, which took severe damage from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.