Kumamon visits Paris

Kumamon, Kumamoto Prefecture’s mascot, will participate in the 14th Japan Expo to be held from July 4 to 7 at Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte (North Paris-Villepinte Exposition Park) in France to publicize the Kyushu prefecture. This will be Kumamon’s first participation in the Japan Expo.

Japanese local governments usually publicize themselves using their unique characters known as “yuru-chara” (literally, loose character), and Kumamon is one of the most popular mascots. The Kumamon-related product sales for 2012 exceeded ¥2.93 billion and Kumamon has been expanding the scope of activities across borders.

The Japan Expo is the largest Japanese culture and entertainment festival in Europe. At the 13th exhibition last year, it drew more than 219,000 visitors and became widely known not only in Europe, but also in other countries.

Kumamon will participate in the culture stage to perform the “Kumamon Exercise” and “Kumamon-Mon Dance” on July 4. In cooperation with the city of Kumamoto, the prefecture will run a booth to publicize the area.

Not to mention collaborations with major Japanese companies, German toy company Steiff recently released 1,500 limited-edition Kumamon teddy bears, which sold out quickly.

For more information on the expo, visit nihongo.japan-expo.com .

Red Cross summer camp

In order to help children’s recovery from the traumatic events of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRC) continues to focus on their needs with projects to take children from the three worst-affected prefectures to the relaxing surroundings of Hokkaido.

This summer camp is a part of the JRC reconstruction and recovery program. A four-day event conducted in a series of sessions from July 22 to Aug. 18 (nine sessions in total) in Rusutsu Resort in Hokkaido, the camp gives children the chance to play outside in beautiful natural surroundings and learn skills such as first aid, team building and leadership. Throughout this summer camp, psychologists and nurses will accompany the children 24 hours a day as support staff.

Children will conduct several activities, including as a critical thinking program about helping the visually impaired and about international cultures, a wheelchair experience, rafting, mountain biking and horse riding.

This camp aims not only to ease the stress of children who are still facing a challenging living environment, but also to help them expand their viewpoints through special programs on subjects such as international cultures, environmental problems and nutrition.

For more information, visit www.jrc.or.jp .

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