NARA – The Nara Prefectural Government said Wednesday that it will make the use of its official mascot free of charge from August.
The local government, which currently collects a fee of 3 percent of expected sales for the use of Sento-kun, hopes that the new measure will encourage many companies to use the character’s likeness to sell goods and services, promoting the prefecture in the process. Nara is popular with foreign and domestic tourists and is known for a number of historical sites, including World Heritage properties.
Royalties from the use of the character have declined, along with its popularity.
“We expect Sento-kun to become popular again and be used more widely,” Gov. Shogo Arai told a news conference. “We hope that the recognition of our prefecture will rise.”
Sento-kun, a Buddhist boy with antlers, was created in 2008 and attracted public attention as the mascot for a 2010 festival to mark the 1,300th year since the transfer of Japan’s ancient capital to Nara. Sento translates to “relocation of the capital”.
Royalties dropped to ¥1.6 million in fiscal 2017, after peaking at some ¥49 million in fiscal 2010.