• Chunichi Shimbun


A humorous tweet earlier this year about an ice cream bar boosted new ties between the city of Seki in Gifu Prefecture, well known for its swords, and sweets maker Imuraya Group Co. that otherwise would not have been nurtured.

As a show of new friendship, 100 azuki (red bean-flavored ice cream) bars will be handed out for free at a live demonstration of sword forging held at Seki Sword Tradition Museum in the city later this month.

It started when someone jokingly compared the traditional swords produced in Seki, which is also famous for cutlery, to Imuraya’s hit product, azuki bars, on social networking service Twitter at the end of February.

The person posted an image of artisans forging a Seki sword and captioned it as “the traditional process of forging the azuki bar,” alluding to the hardness of the ice cream bars.

Then Imuraya tweeted back jokingly, saying “There goes our top secret . . . ”

The post quickly went viral and has been re-tweeted over 38,000 times ever since.

Even Seki Mayor Kenji Ozeki joined in, expressing on Twitter his gratitude for helping to promote the city, which gained further attention. To repay the unexpected publicity, the city’s tourism and cultural exchange division arranged the free distribution of azuki bars at the event.

“I am surprised to see how Twitter can help us interact with companies outside the prefecture.

Both Japanese swords and azuki bars are famous for their hardness, so I hope we can build a strong relationship, too,” said Ozeki, 42.

Imuraya also welcomed the newly forged ties. “I think this worked out because it happened by chance, not based on business interests. We’re happy to hear that our product will be used at such an important event,” said a company official in charge of its Twitter account.

Imuraya also plans to include specialties from Seki in their next campaign.

The live demonstration of sword forging in Seki is scheduled for Sunday at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Azuki bars will be distributed from 1 p.m.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on March 26.

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