Eager Japanese rushed to their phones on Friday to start hunting as the "Pokemon Go" mobile game finally launched in Japan, bringing the record-setting global hit to the home of the Pokemon characters.
After several days of rumors that the launch was imminent, Japan - one of the world's biggest gaming markets - joined the United States, Canada, Australia and more than 30 countries in Europe in playing the "augmented-reality" game by Nintendo in which players interact with virtual characters in the real world.
The unexpected hit has doubled Nintendo's value since its U.S. launch earlier this month.
Junichi Masuda, head of development at Game Freak, and co-creator of the game, apologized in a video announcement on the internet for keeping players waiting so long in the land where Pokemon was first born two decades ago.
"From today you can go out and find Pokemon to your heart's content," he said.
"We hope the game enables users to see the world in a new, fulfilling way. Obey the rules and have fun."