KUMAMOTO – Products bearing the image of Kumamon, the black bear mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, racked up sales of at least ¥157.9 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2019, the Kumamoto Prefectural Government said Friday.
Sales have hit fresh records every year since 2011, when the prefectural government started the survey. Total sales since that time have been upwards of ¥810 billion.
“Products supporting Kumamoto earthquake reconstruction efforts, and those using illustrations (of Kumamon) overseas have grown steadily. I hope people will continue to support the mascot,” Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima told a news conference.
To come up with the annual figure, the government tallies the sales of businesses that use the mascot in their marketing and respond to the survey.
Japanese businesses have been able to produce and sell products featuring the much-loved mascot free of charge after getting approval from the prefectural government.
But in 2018, the prefecture began letting foreign businesses in on the action because of the mascot’s growing popularity in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of Asia in recent years.