Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Pokemon | Real World Pokemon Locations

The Pokemon world seen in the Pokemon RPGs might seem vast and incredibly detailed to gamers who frequently visit its regions, but that's because they truly exist, as they are mostly based from actual places in Japan. The similarities not only extend to precise geographical locations and terrain, but right down to some topographical details and conditions as well.

Years before, when Pokemon Gold & Silver were released, I could only compare line-drawn maps to the maps found in the Pokemon world. But technology has come a long way since then, and thanks mainly to tools like Google Earth, I can now clearly compare the game maps to actual satellite maps.

First seen in Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow/Green, then slightly revised in Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green, the Kanto region actually exists in Japan--it's the southeasternmost region of Honshu, Japan's largest island, which includes its most well-known prefecture, Tokyo.

Top: Kanto as depicted in Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green
Bottom: the real Kanto region of Japan

Kanto in the Pokemon games has cities that share real-world counterparts in Japan: the large metropolitan areas of Celadon City and Saffron City in the game have the same location of the Greater Tokyo area in Japan, while the bustling seaport of Vermilion City is analogous to Japan's Yokohama City, which is the largest seaport in Japan.

South of Kanto in the Pokemon world lies Cinnabar Island, which is based on Japan's Oshima Island. The two islands also share a similar feature--a huge volcano.

The Sevii Islands
Farther down south of Kanto are the Sevii Islands, first seen in Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green. The Sevii Islands are based on Japan's actual groups of volcanic islands that lie south of Honshu--the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. In the Pokemon World, seven (hence the name--Sevii) islands are identified, but there are two more, which can only be accessed through special tickets given away in Nintendo promos.

Using Google Earth, I've managed to precisely identify 3 of the Sevii Islands, the ones closest to Kanto and just past Cinnabar Island.

Island 1 (Knot Island) = Toshima, Niijima & Shikinejima islands
Island 2 (Boon Island) = Miyakejima & Mikurajima islands
Island 3 (Kin Island) = Hachijo-jima & Hachijo-kojima islands

Sevii Islands
Top: Three of Pokemon's Sevii Islands
Bottom: Their real-world counterparts along the Southern areas of Honshu

Introduced in the Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal games, the Johto region lies to the west of Kanto. In the real world, Johto is based on Japan's Kansai-Chubu regions, which also lies to the west of Japan's Kanto region.

Two large cities in Johto, Goldenrod City and Ecruteak City, correspond to Japan's Osaka and Kyoto respectively. The most prominent feature of Johto is a huge mountain named Mt. Silver, which is analogous to Japan's most prominent mountain, Mt. Fuji.

Top: Pokemon's Johto region
Bottom: Japan's Kansai-Chubu regions

The Hoenn region was the setting of the Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald games. It's supposed to be a land far to the southwest of Johto/Kanto, and that's actually where it is in the real world as well, because it's based on Japan's third largest island, Kyushu--but flipped 90 degrees counterclockwise.

Top: Hoenn as seen in Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald
Bottom: Kyushu, turned 90 degrees counterclockwise.
Inset: Okinawa prefecture turned 90 degrees counterclockwise,
corresponding to where Ever Grande City would be in Hoenn

One of the cities in Hoenn, Rustboro City, is based on the largest city in Kyushu, Fukouka City. Two very prominent features of Hoenn include Mt. Chimney and Mt. Pyre, which correspond to Kyushu's Mt. Aso and Sakurajima respectively.

Comparing the Google Earth map of Kyushu with the Pokemon World's Hoenn, I wondered where Ever Grande City was. To find it, just go farther southwest from Kyushu to the Okinawa prefecture. Center on the main island, flip it 90 degrees counterclockwise--and you've got Ever Grande City, the island where the Pokemon League is located.

Finally, we come to the Sinnoh region, the setting of the Pokemon Diamond/Pearl games. At first, very little about Sinnoh was revealed prior to the release of the new games, but more info was made available later on, including a detailed map of the region and its cities.

Described as a region located somewhere to the north of Kanto, one noteworthy feature is a broad mountain range that cuts through the central portion. So where is it in the real world? North of Japan's Kanto region lies Hokkaido, its second largest island and biggest prefecture, and its shape alone makes a perfect match for Sinnoh.

A large city that corresponds exactly with Sapporo on the Hokkaido map can be seen, including one of three major lakes that prominently figure in the games. Finally, along the northeastern portion can be found the Battle Frontier, and its real world counterpart is none other than the southernmost tip of Russia's Sakhalin Island.

Top: Sinnoh, the setting of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl
Bottom: Hokkaido prefecture, an obvious match for the Sinnoh region.
Inset: The southern tip of Russia's Sakhalin Island,
used as Sinnoh's Battle Frontier location

text by Heiss Ignacio; game maps/art copyright © Nintendo, Creatures Inc, Game Freak
satellite maps copyright © Google Earth
Originally posted at pinoy-n.com, June 2006; updated text and pics here, September 2007
References: Wikipedia and Bulbapedia


Anonymous said...

wow man i nvr actuly knew any of this xD im impressed, good work =]


Heiss said...

thanks, timmie!

Anonymous said...

I worked this out on my own. But it's great to see someone has documented it. Nice work. Would love to see the real world correspondences to the spin off games.

Anonymous said...

awsome, they are all real places. i knew that kanto and sinnoh were real, cos they are easy 2 see on a map of japan, but johto is a little harder to see and, hoenn you have to rotate the map to see it. thx dude!

Anonymous said...

wow! sooo epic! I had heard that pokemon was based on legit locations, but I nvr knew which ones! Super cool! PS. I heard that the newest region, Unova, was actually based on a US area, like New York or something. Is that true?