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Beyond Creatures: Unveiling Pokémon’s Multicultural Universe

Jasmine Johal

Friday, 26 January 2024

Jasmine takes us on a tour of the real-world locations that influenced the game maps within the Pokémon universe.

The Pokémon franchise, a pop-cultural sensation that has captured the hearts of millions worldwide, has drawn inspiration from real-world locations, cultures and ecosystems to craft an expansive and vibrant universe.


The first few generations of Pokémon were motivated by various aspects of Japanese culture. For instance, Pokémon’s Kanto region, named after and based upon Japan’s Kanto, includes cities and landmarks, such as Saffron City and Cerulean Cave, which parallel real-world locations like Tokyo and Mt. Fuji. The traditional and modern aspects coexist within this region to demonstrate the blend of cultural heritage and technological advances in Japan.


Pokémon’s Unova region mirrors the vibrant energy of New York City: with places such as Castelia City mimicking Manhattan’s busy streets, the Skyarrow Bridge reminiscent of the Brooklyn Bridge and Nimbasa City resembling the vibrant lights of Times Square, Unova clearly portrays NYC’s lively energy.


Kalos is a Pokémon region motivated by the romantic allure of France. Its architectural designs, landscapes and cultural elements were heavily influenced by various areas within the country. There are landmarks similar to the Eiffel Tower (in Lumiose City) and vineyard-filled areas emulating regions like Bordeaux. Kalos’ fashion, cuisine and love for art reflect France’s diverse culture, beckoning players to immerse themselves in a vibrant, French-inspired setting.


The Alola region in Pokémon bears a resemblance to the exotic ambiance of Hawaii, with its sun-kissed beaches and tropical landscapes. Alola embodies both the energetic cityscape of Hau’oli City, resembling the bustling Honolulu, and the serene Melemele Island, which captures the tranquillity of Hawaiian villages. The names of the areas incorporate Hawaiian words into their titles. The video game even features traditional festivals, similar to real-life Hawaiian luaus, honouring Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage. Alola invites trainers to battle on sun-soaked shores, embracing a place that defines the heart of Hawaii.


The Pokémon region of Galar is a blend of modern and historic Britain. The lively city of Wyndon mirrors the grandeur of London, with its towering buildings and cultural diversity. Meanwhile, Hammerlocke radiates an aura of medieval England with its castle-like structures and rich history. The region’s sporting culture, notably through Gym Challenges, echoes the passion for football matches found in the UK. With its mix of modern elements and respect for heritage, Galar entices trainers to discover its distinctively British-inspired environment.


Based on Spain, the Paldea region demonstrates a vibrant fusion of cultural elements. The architectural landscapes evoke the charm of Spanish cities. The Academy, mirroring Barcelona’s iconic La Sagrada Familia, stands tall with spires, resonating the magnificence of the famous cathedral. Modern influences are also present, with Levincia drawing parallels to Madrid. Furthermore, Paldea extends tributes to neighbouring regions on the Iberian Peninsula, notably Portugal and Andorra. Cascarrafa and Porto Marinada, with their aquatic themes, pay homage to Portuguese coastal towns through their bustling markets and structures adorned with characteristic tiles, offering an exploration of Iberian culture within the Pokémon universe.


The Pokémon world provides vivid representations of real-life locations across the globe, with each region showcasing unique cultural traits. The diverse landscapes, architecture and festivals within each game encourage players to explore its captivating universe, making Pokémon much more than just a game about catching creatures.

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