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The Busiest Local Character in Japan? An In-Depth Look into Kumamoto’s Mascot, Kumamon!
Kumamoto's local character, which goes by the name "Kumamon", is a famous mascot that pretty much every Japanese person knows. Recently, however, he has become hugely popular not just in Japan, but overseas as well. With that, read on and dive into the activities and secrets of Kumamon.
1. What Is Kumamon?
There are more than 1,000 local characters in Japan. Out of all of them, Kumamoto's mascot Kumamon is one of the most famous. Kumamon is a local mascot that has a lot of opportunities to show his face to the public, thanks to his frequent appearances at events related to Kumamoto all over Japan, as well as on TV.
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2. Kumamon's Profile
Kumamon debuted in 2010. Originally, he was merely a bonus mascot in the "Kumamoto Surprise Campaign" that aimed to make people rediscover and fall in love with the beauty of Kumamoto. However, this mascot's adorable appearance, active behavior and steady activities in the locality succeeded, leading to Kumamon's major break. He instantly became a famous character known to every Japanese person.
Kumamon is characterized by his jet-black body and round, red cheeks, and the slightly surprised expression on his face. He is a boy bear that was born in Kumamoto on March 12th, and possesses a personality that is "mischievous and curious". They say that Kumamon will appear if you want to make someone happy.
3. Where Should You Go to Meet Kumamon?
Kumamon is a public servant who is the Trading Manager and Happiness Manager of Kumamoto. When requested to attend events for marketing Kumamoto, Kumamon goes anywhere and everywhere, all over the country. In particular, he has been on a nationwide tour recently to thank all those who supported the relief and reconstruction efforts during the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016.
This mascot is active not only in Japan, as he also makes appearances overseas. He has been to Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, U.S. and other countries so far. In 2017, he was even chosen as the French Tourism Goodwill Ambassador. Who knows, maybe Kumamon is coming to your town soon, too?
4. What PR Activities Are Being Undertaken by Kumamon?
One of the characteristics of Kumamon is his unique PR drive. For instance, in the project that aimed to convey the appeal of Kumamoto by distributing 10,000 business cards in the Kansai region, the displeased Kumamon disappeared. The "Search for Kumamon in Osaka" campaign was then launched, and people joined in by uploading information on Kumamon sightings on social media and other outlets. Apart from that, the "Missing Cheeks Incident" and other campaigns were rolled out, and these PR activities that make people want to join in are said to be the secret behind this character's popularity.
A lot of original merchandise and collaborative products and projects involving Kumamon have been created and undertaken. There is even a hotel with the "Kumamon Room" that is filled with Kumamon decorations everywhere you look. Further, there are picture books and music videos featuring Kumamon. This bear is really active on various stages and venues.
5. Try to Visit KUMAMON Square!
The base of activity of Kumamon, which is extremely busy every day, is KUMAMON Square in Kumamoto City. It is a facility that provides information on Kumamon, as well as information on sightseeing and local goods available in Kumamoto. There are a lot of attractions inside, such as Kumamon Trading Manager's Office that serves as Kumamon's workplace, the Interaction Space where Kumamon dances, and the Original Goods Store that sells merchandise that can only be found in this place. It is definitely a spot that would be irresistible to those who love Kumamon.
Apart from Kumamon, there are many other adorable local characters all over Japan. So if you come to Japan, check out the characters of the places that you are visiting.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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