When Wakayama’s newsletter featured native rock star Hyde on its front cover, phones at the municipal office lit up, alarming officials.

“The response to the newsletter was beyond our imagination,” recalled a city official.

The Wakayama Municipal Government received over 1,200 inquiries about the monthly newsletter from all over the country, including from people wanting a copy, according to the official.

Hyde, the lead vocalist for the rock band L’Arc-en-Ciel who also has a solo career, is one of several musicians actively promoting their hometowns and prefectures.

He willingly accepted a request from the city to assume the role of tourism ambassador for free in January 2019 and appeared on the front cover of the March issue of City Report Wakayama.

Hyde | KYODO
Hyde | KYODO

Hyde also promotes the city and Wakayama Prefecture on Twitter, occasionally posting pictures and comments on sightseeing spots and local delicacies.

After he tweeted that Wakayama-based green tea manufacturer Gyokurinen’s matcha-flavored Green Soft ice cream is his favorite, many people from other prefectures have visited the company’s outlets.

“We’re really thankful for him,” says Gyokurinen’s public relations official.

Special New Year’s cards with photos of Hyde from a concert in the prefecture sold exclusively by local post offices were a big hit as well. A launch ceremony for Hyde Southern, a Nankai Electric Railway Co. limited express train sporting an exterior designed by Hyde, held at Namba Station in Osaka on Dec. 23 was swamped by fans.

“I want to go to Wakayama many times by taking the train,” a woman in her 20s said enthusiastically. The train runs between Namba Station and Wakayamashi Station or Wakayamako Station.

In addition to Hyde, singer Takanori Nishikawa, a native of Shiga Prefecture who also performs under the name T.M. Revolution, has hosted a music festival in Shiga every year since 2009 as a sightseeing ambassador.

Each event attracts around 100,000 people. Nishikawa has so far donated around ¥26.5 million to the prefectural government from ticket sales.

Singer Daigo, a grandson of former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, served as a tourism ambassador for Shimane Prefecture, where the late politician known for introducing the consumption tax was born, for two years from 2013.

During his time as ambassador, Daigo worked to promote tourism in the prefecture, including performing his original “Shimane Song.”