Most of you would know the symbol of Kumamoto, Kumamon. The first thing you'd see at Kumamoto Airport would be a poster of him. You'd see local items packaged with his face at supermarkets and Kumamon goods at tourist places. On top of these, I found Kumamon slippers at my parents house. Kumamon is everywhere!
Kumamon has been exceptionally popular all over Japan. He was born to promote Kumamoto tourism and local products and won the "yuru chara" grand prix 2011 by commanding lead which made him more famous. Mr. Kabashima, the governor of Kumamoto, appointed him to Promotion Manager and Happiness Manager. Kumamon works actively on promoting Kumamoto in Japan and overseas. According to the Kumamoto branch of the Bank of Japan , the Kumamon effect was calculated as 122.46 billion yen for the 2 years to November 2013. This lovely black bear has an innocent face with red cheeks and whose head takes up half of his body size. It is said that his fur is the same colour as Kumamoto Castle and his big tummy (metabolic syndrome) came about due to eating too much delicious food in Kumamoto.
Kumamon is extremely busy, appearing on TV and exhibitions, as well as visiting schools, kindergartens and festivals, but you could see him at Kumamon Square. Kumamon Square is located on the first floor of the East Building of Tsuruya Department Store in the downtown business district. You can check Kumamon's appearance schedule on the website, but it's good idea if you come earlier as the place gets crowded early.
As show time approached, Kumamon makes his way to the stage with his mate. Because he can't speak, his mate interprets in Kumamoto dialect. He couldn't climb on the stage because his legs are short which make the audience laugh. He and his mate welcomes us with a comedy routine, alternatively laughing and sulking. You can't imagine this from his appearance, but he moves very quickly and expresses his emotion very well by jumping up and down. He's such an entertainer. Then, he and his mate explain their new song and exercise dance for "Kumamon Touch" and "Kumamon Taisou". Many kids in Kumamoto are familiar with "Kumamon Taisou" and they dance together with Kumamon. Those little shy kids looks so adorable.
After his appearance on stage, Kumamon goes to his office, opens the blind and waves to everyone. People were cheering as he acts in a very cute manner. In his office, he has desk, telephone and shelf with pictures and prizes. I can imagine him signing documents for approval and working on promotion strategy in the office.
Kumamon then comes out from his office and meets the the audience to say farewell. This is the best chance to take photos with him and he was surrounded by men and women of all ages. His fans come from Kumamoto as well as other parts of the world and some even give him a present or ask him for an autograph. Kumamon is the bear of the moment.
Kumamon Square has a shop and a cafe offering exclusive local items. Let's check it out.