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an illustration of Kumamon
clothing printed with pictures of Kumamon

Kumamon (くまモン) is a mascot created by the government of Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. It was created in 2010 for a campaign created to draw tourists to the region after the Kyushu Shinkansen line opened.[1] Kumamon subsequently became nationally popular, and in late 2011, was voted top in a nationwide survey of mascots, collectively known as yuru-chara, garnering over 280,000 votes.[2][3] Following his success in the contest, Kumamoto earned ¥11.8 billion (US$120 million, GB£79 million, €93 million) in merchandising revenue for the first half of 2012, after having only earned ¥2.5 billion (US$26 million, GB£17 million, €20 million) throughout all of 2011.[4][5] Kumamon enjoys tremendous popularity throughout the world.[6]

Economic impact[edit]

In just two years, Kumamon has generated US$1.2 billion in economic benefits for his region, including tourism and product sales, as well as US$90 million worth of publicity, according to a recent Bank of Japan study.[7] Sales of Kumamon items have reached ¥29.3 billion in 2012, up from ¥2.5 billion in 2011.[8]

くまもんグッズ (21349147228).jpg

The Bank of Japan also estimated that Kumamon generated ¥123.2 billion in revenue during a two-year period starting from 2011.[6]


A large part of Kumamon's success can be attributed to its cuteness.[8] The unusual marketing strategy of free licensing is also behind Kumamon's commercial success,[8] since the Kumamoto prefecture grants usage rights for free to anyone as long as their products promote goods and services from the prefecture.[6][8] Furthermore, in 2018, the Kumamoto prefecture decided to allow foreign businesses to use Kumamon, aiming to expand Kumamon to the world. [9]

Cultural impact[edit]

This mascot has a minor cameo in the 2014 video game Yo-Kai Watch 2, and made an appearance in Yo-kai Watch: The Movie, following the main characters (Whisper, Nate, and Jibanyan) around. It also gained internet popularity when images of Kumamon, usually around large fires, were captioned with "Why? For the glory of Satan, of course!".[citation needed] The Kumamoto Prefecture has taken this well, but has more carefully restricted official photography of the mascot.

BTS member Suga is a well known fan of Kumamon, with a video of him meeting the mascot for the first time going viral.

Exterior of a Kumamon-themed Hisatsu Orange Railway train, November 2012

Since 3 September 2018 Kumamon has embraced a new identity as a YouTuber.[10] Videos in Japanese have been uploaded onto its YouTube account every Monday.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top Ten Japanese Character Mascots". Finding Fukuoka. 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  2. ^ "Japan's #1 Mascots: Kumamon, Bary-san, and Nishiko-kun". Japan Probe. 2011-11-28. Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  3. ^ "Kumamoto Mascot "Kuma-mon" Won First Prize | Tenkai-japan:Cool Japan Guide-Travel, Shopping, Fashion, J-pop". Tenkai-japan. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  4. ^ Brasor, Philip (2013-01-13). "Mascots bear cash for local authorities". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  5. ^ Wakabayashi, Daisuke (2012-12-25). "Isn't That Cute? In Japan, Cuddly Characters Compete - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  6. ^ a b c Brasor, Philip (2014-04-15). "Can a solo career help a mascot stand out?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
  7. ^ "Cuddly bear Kumamon becomes a marketing superstar in Japan". South China Morning Post. February 24, 2014. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  8. ^ a b c d Fuji, Moeko (Jun 28, 2013). "The Branding of Kumamon: The Bear That Stole Japan's Heart". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  9. ^ https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/04/business/kumamoto-prefecture-decides-allow-foreign-firms-use-kumamon-bear-brand/#.W7qsixNKiYU
  10. ^ First episode of Kumamon TV:YouTube Sep 3, 2018
  11. ^ Iconic Japanese mascot Kumamon to become YouTuber:The Japan Times Aug 22, 2018

External links[edit]