Hollywood is full of stars. It certainly doesn’t come as a surprise to encounter them on Hollywood Boulevard—the iconic street boasting the beloved Walk of Fame. In the heart of it all, at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, you’ll find the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Hollywood Museum, and the historic El Capitan theatre. And just a few yards north of that: JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles. This is where our story begins.

Ovation Hollywood, where JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is located, is a sprawling indoor-outdoor shopping and entertainment complex. The bright space is consistently crowded with tourists from all over the world. When you arrive, it’s impossible not to see Alolan Exeggutor among the many palm trees lining the perimeter. And if the experience of seeing Pokémon-like flora in the real world inspires even the smallest spark of joy, the POKÉMON × KOGEI Playful Encounters of Pokémon and Japanese Craft exhibit at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles will blow your mind, and likely forever change the way you see Pokémon. Liberated from their typical two-dimensional world of animated television and video games, the Pokémon come into sharp relief. And the feelings inspired by this unexpected visual experience are varied and intense.

The second-floor gallery space where this transformation takes place is rather traditional—a large space with monotone white walls surrounded by large glass windows—so the sight of the Pikachu in the exhibit logo is…unexpected. What is the world-famous Pokémon doing at an art gallery in Los Angeles? As it turns out, Pikachu is here to facilitate an international celebration of Pokémon and incredible Japanese craft called kogei. Best of all, Pikachu isn’t alone. The 20 artists of the National Crafts Museum who collectively created the more-than-70 pieces drew inspiration from hundreds of Pokémon. Beyond just the Pokémon, they ruminated on the regions themselves, on the various attacks Pokémon perform in battle, and the lore, diving deeply into the essence of the Pokémon world as only true artists can over the course of their own journeys.

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