• Kyodo


Are you feeling lucky?

Donors who give cash to the city of Ube in Yamaguchi Prefecture are being rewarded with unconventional thank-you gifts: lottery tickets.

Since November, Ube has been sending stacks of tickets to well-wishers who make a contribution to city coffers through the state-sponsored “furusato nozei” (hometown tax deduction) program.

Ube is considered the jackpot capital of Japan. Statistically, its residents seem to be luckier at playing the lottery.

Despite a modest population of slightly over 170,000, in the past six years the city has recorded a slew of national jackpots and a total of more than ¥2.9 billion from tickets sold from its lottery stands.

Last May, a ticket-holder from Ube secured a ¥636 million grand prize in the “Loto 7” national lottery.

Under the state-sponsored tax deduction program, people can donate cash to a municipality of their choice. To compete for donations, cities often reward donors with a gift such as a package of local delicacies. Donors can also claim a proportional deduction in their residential and income taxes.

Ube city has traditionally sent donors treats such as a bottle of local sake. But since November, it has added lottery tickets to the lineup. A ¥10,000 donation secures 10 lottery tickets.

The tickets are bought directly from one of the city’s luckiest stands — the one in downtown Kotoshiba — which has yielded jackpots three years in a row.

“In just the past month, we have received donations amounting to half our usual annual total,” said one city official.

On Dec. 5 the city organized a bus tour for 20 tourists which took them to some of its luckiest spots — including the Kotoshiba lottery stand.

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