World of Pokèmon Day #12 – Pewter City/Maebashi

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Today we ventured into Maebashi to see what we could find. The city is the capital of the Gunma Prefecture which we think is the equivalent of a county in England. Only there doesn’t seem like there’s really too much going on.
The centre is small with a few shops, cafes and bars lining the streets. There’s a huge building beside the river designated as the Gunma Prefecture Central Offices, dealing with all the goings on in the area. There’s also an observation deck at the top on the 32nd floor where we saw the entire city in a panoramic view. It is here where the city’s most noteworthy aspect comes to light, like Pewter City’s motto states, it lies between Rugged Mountains.
The Akagi Mountain range is perhaps the most impressive, lying to the north east which is where we go tomorrow (it is Mt. Moon after all). Mt. Haruna and Mt. Komochi stand to the north west of this while the Ochichibu Mountain Range (indeed where we were a few days back to see Viridian Forest) lie to the south. It almost seems the entire area sits in a basin surrounded by these impressive landmarks and it’s quite awe-inspiring to look up at any moment in the city  to see these mountains staring back at you. In actuality, it is probably this positioning that is the reason why the next site we went to see exists.
Iwajuku is about a half an hour train journey from Maebashi city centre. It is part of the city of Midori which itself was only established in 2006 after many smaller settlements merged together. It certainly did not seem like a city, when we got off the train we felt we’d wound up in the middle of nowhere. But a 15 minute walk away lies a very impressive, if not incredibly important site in a lesser known area of Japan.
Indeed, Iwajuku is famous as in 1946, archeologist Tadahiro Aizawa and his team unearthed tools from a pre-historic culture based in what is now Japan. This was a huge breakthrough in as their findings could be dated back up to 35,000 years ago to a time far pre-dating the Jomon period (10,000 to 15,000 years ago) which beforehand had been accepted as the earliest human culture in the area. Essentially it proved that Japan had a Paleolithic Period whereas before it was accepted it hadn’t. The Iwajuku Archeological Site now houses a museum, and several exhibits displaying this ancient culture.
The site also may be what inspired either the Pewter Gym or the Pewter Museum of Science (though mostly likely inspired much of both). Sharp rocks made up most of this historic society’s tools and of course unearthing rocks is a huge part of what archeology is about. This is not too dissimilar to the Gym Leader Brock who not only has a keen interest in Rock-Type Pokèmon but also in finding fossils. He even donates many of his findings to the Pewter Museum, which has exhibits of Kabutops and Aerodactyl skeletons (while Iwajuku houses an almost complete Mammoth skeleton). Even the entrance to the site somewhat resembles the appearance of the Pewter Gym from the Pokèmon anime.
With such an incredible site sitting in the Gunma Prefecture it wouldn’t seem too surprising if the developers used this place as inspiration for what became the first ever Gym challenge gamers would ever face. While Maebashi itself may be a little quiet, this fantastic site is something that is definitely worth a viewing.
Tomorrow we go to Akagi, a place that I personally have been looking forward to immensely. If all goes to plan, we’ll be able to show exactly why that is…

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