Augmented reality game "Pokemon Go" was released Friday in Japan, with enthusiastic players visiting all locations in search of virtual game creatures while government institutions and police warned about safety hazards.
The release of the game in Japan came about two weeks later than its debut in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. earlier this month, where the game has been phenomenally popular, though it has also caused a number of accidents.
In Japan, where fans have been waiting anxiously, the release has sparked a frenzy. Just hours after the game's release Friday, people were seen engrossed looking at their cellphones and searching for virtual Pokemon creatures on the streets of Tokyo despite the rainy weather there.
In Osaka, a university student was reportedly rushed to hospital after falling downstairs while playing the game and losing a lot of blood.
In southwestern Japan, the city of Kumamoto has asked Nintendo Co., one of the developers of the game, to exclude the quake-hit Kumamoto Castle from the game's virtual map, after a man in his 20s was found trying to enter an off-limits area there.
The Japanese government's top spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Friday that he wanted gamers to "be careful not to enter dangerous zones and restricted areas."
The government has issued a nine-point warning a day earlier, calling gamers not to play the game while walking, particularly on railway platforms, or while riding a bicycle, and not to enter off-limits areas.
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority also said Friday that it has urged operators of nuclear power plants and other nuclear-related facilities to tighten security in order to prevent possible trespassers.
The smartphone game, jointly developed by Japanese firm Nintendo Co., its affiliate Pokemon Co. and American game maker Niantic Inc., has been released in over 30 countries by now.
The game has caused a number of incidents globally, including teenagers trespassing a nuclear power plant in the U.S. and people getting robbed while trying to catch virtual Pokemon creatures in secluded places.
Meanwhile, the success of the game has brought the stock prices of its developers to surge, with Nintendo's share price nearly doubled on the Tokyo market since the game's debut overseas.