Translated by Greg
Kumamon - Meet Kumamoto's Popular Mascot And Hear His Untold Story
Written by MATCHA-PR
Kumamon, the beloved mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, is active both in Japan and overseas. We introduce places in Kumamoto where you can personally meet Kumamon, as well as his latest activities. Read this article to find out all about Kumamon.
Kumamon: The Popular Mascot Hailing from Kumamoto
As an official PR character, he actively works to promote Kumamoto. A familiar figure famous throughout Japan, Kumamon has recently become well-known overseas, too!
This article introduces places in Kumamoto where you can personally meet Kumamon. We'll also inform you of the activities he's currently promoting.
Read this article, and you can rest assured you'll have a deeper understanding of who Kumamon actually is!
Who Exactly Is Kumamon?
Kumamon was born on March 12. On the same day, the Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) Line connecting Fukuoka with Kagoshima officially opened. His name derives from the word Kumamoto-mon, which means "Kumamoto person" in the local dialect.
Kumamon is a mischievous boy. His height and weight are also a secret (according to one explanation, his chubby build is from overindulging in Kumamoto's delicious food!).
He's wide-eyed and full of curiosity. His special skill is apparently finding surprises and happiness hidden around us—then sharing these discoveries with everyone in Japan.
In fact, Kumamon is a prefectural civil servant! He has been entrusted with the dual role of being Kumamoto's Sales Manager and Happiness Manager by the prefecture's governor.
In his role as a prefectural sales manager, he travels to all parts of Japan, actively promoting Kumamoto's tourism and agricultural products.
In addition to his PR work, he enthusiastically performs his original dance ("Kumamon Exercise"), holds level 3 of the Japan Fishing Certification Examination, and is an amateur Shogi "shodan" (first-grade level), among other accomplishments. Kumamon is busy every day!
Let's Meet Kumamon at Kumamon Square!
Kumamon Square in Kumamoto City is the place where you can actually meet Kumamon. It's close to Kumamoto Castle and to the main avenues of the city, Kamitori Street and Shimotori Street.
If you ever visit Kumamoto, this is one place you'll want to drop by.
Kumamon Square serves as Kumamon's base of operations. Here you'll see photos and goods on display from all the places he has visited. In other words, visitors can find out more about the path Kumamon took to get here.
There is also a shop selling Kumamon merchandise and specialty Kumamoto products—a perfect spot for picking up a souvenir!
There's even the Kumamon Sales Manager Office. The phone on his desk is an original model embellished with a Kumamon motif!
Kumamon works in his office five days a week. He also performs his dance on stage and interacts with visitors.
If you would like to meet Kumamon, first check his schedule on the Kumamon Square official homepage. If you visit during one of the designated times on the calendar, you'll be able to meet him!
Giving Emotional Support during the Restoration Process
On April 14 and 16, 2016, a magnitude-7 earthquake hit Kumamoto. Many residences were completely destroyed, and Kumamoto Castle suffered major damages.
After the earthquake, Kumamon immediately halted all his activities. The mascot and his staff could not decide on what to do. On the one hand, they wanted to visit the disaster sites and offer their support and encouragement to the victims. But at the same time, they felt that it might be inappropriate to go there at such a terrible and upsetting time.
It was a grave situation for all those affected by the natural disaster. Many at the evacuation center were physically and mentally exhausted after escaping their homes. The evacuees also faced severe living conditions at the center. Understandably, many were also fraught with fear and anguish regarding their future.
Meanwhile, activities supporting Kumamoto and Kumamon were carried out across the country following the earthquake.
One example was the large scale movement founded by the Twitter hashtag #Go Kumamon Go! Group. Many manga artists got together, drew Kumamon illustrations, then posted them on Twitter to support Kumamoto Prefecture.
After a period of emotional conflict, Kumamon decided to resume his activities three weeks after the earthquake to lift the spirits of Kumamoto residents.
He visited children at the disaster sites and offered words of encouragement to all the volunteers. The mascot also resumed posting comments on Twitter two months after the earthquake.
Through his post-disaster activities, Kumamon continued to be a paramount source of emotional support for everyone in Kumamoto Prefecture.
Kumamon Appeals for Help during Natural Disasters
While Kumamoto Prefecture is still on its way to recovery, Kumamon travels the country and joins events that support the restoration efforts.
Kumamon's help extends far beyond Kumamoto. Wherever there have been earthquakes, flooding, and other natural disasters in Japan, he continues to help gather support and assistance.
Kumamon has long been a steady source of support for Kumamoto residents. Even today, Kumamon continues to be actively engaged in promoting Kumamoto and calls for help at disaster-stricken areas nationwide.
Written by Shuhei Yagishita
Sponsored by Kumamoto Prefecture
©2010 kumamoto pref. kumamon