The Pokemon game taking the virtual world by storm this summer has an insect connection. Pokemon, or “pocket monster”, was invented by Satoshi Tajiri. As a young boy, Tajiri spent a lot of time in the nearby forest collecting insects. He wanted to be an Entomologist and had the nickname, “Dr Bug”.
Catching and keeping insects as pets is a popular hobby in Japan. In urban areas, there are many shops that sell insects as pets. People spend time grooming their insect pets and may even try to teach them tricks.
Insects as pets were the inspiration for Pokemon, which even before this summer sensation was one of the most popular video games. In Pokemon, players capture wild Pokemon that they train to battle the Pokemon of opponents. The battles have a real life counterpart. In some parts of Japan, beetle fighting is a popular past time. Stag beetle males are territorial. If placed in close proximity, they may fight for control of the territory. These “bouts” typically occur on a wooden arena. The stag beetle that pushes its opponent out of the arena is declared the winner.
Satoshi Tajiri was able to merge his first love, Entomology, with his later interest in anime and video games. The result was the wildly successful Pokemon, a video game that allows players to virtually share many of the same pleasures of school children with their real life insect pets. Pokemon, a video game first released in 1996, is 20 years old this year.
This weekend, Pokemon, go to Butterfly Encounter.