The Long Read: Kumamon, a caricature allow created to promote tourism in an overlooked part of Japan, has become a billion-dollar phenomenon. Now, a new academic orbit is trying to pinpoint what obligates situations cute and why we cant refuse them
On 14 April 2016, a 6.2 -magnitude earthquake smacked Japans southernmost island of Kyushu, overthrowing constructs and communicating tenants rushing into the streets. Hundreds of aftershocks one an even greater 7.0 shock continued for days, killing 49 people, disabling 1,500 and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.
News spread immediately around the globe on social media.
Earthquake just happened, Margie Tam posted from Hong Kong. R u ok kumamon?
Are Kumamon and his acquaintances safe? amazed Eric Tang, a college student.
Pray for Kumamoto& Kumamon, wrote Ming Jang Lee from Thailand, a phrase that would be repeated thousands of times.
On 12 March 2016, a few months before the earthquake. Kumamon had bounded on to an outdoor stage at the opening contest of his birthday party in Kumamoto, a town of 700, 000 in a largely agricultural district of the same identify in the centre of Kyushu. About 150 guests mostly wives encouraged, applauded and whistled. Kumamon waved and bent. He is just under 5ft towering, with pitch-black glossy hair, circular cherry-red cheeks and wide-ranging, staring gazes, and he was wearing, for the reason, a lily-white satin dinner jacket pared in silver and a crimson prow tie.
One woman in the crowd harboured a Kumamon doll swaddled in a baby blanket. Another had garmented her doll in a grey-haired outfit matching her own. It had taken her a month to form. A number of love had pasted ruby-red paper curves on their buttock to simulate his. Those in the first sequence had arrived at 3am to snag prime spots to accost the object of their affection.
Actually, I have no suggestion why I desire him so much, said Milkinikio Mew, who had winged from Hong Kong with her friends Lina Tong and Alsace Choi to attend the three-day-long festival although there are Hong Kong was viewing its own birthday defendant for Kumamon. She had overslept, and simply been able to reach 6am for the 10 am kick-off, so she had to settle for a seat in the back row.
Kumamon is not exactly a caricature character, though he does appear in a daily newspaper cartoon strip. Hes not a brand icon either, like Hello Kitty, though like her, his image surely sells merchandise. Hes not sexy, but when the Empress Michiko fulfilled Kumamon at her solicit during the imperial duos call to Kumamoto in 2013, she asked him: Are you single?
A birthday cake was rolled out, and the crowd sang Happy Birthday. Then presents. A delegates of Honda, which has a motorbike mill nearby, yielded him its Kumamon-themed scooter. An Italian bicycle maker unveiled a usage Kumamon racing bike. There was also a new rehearsal DVD, on which Kumamon passes the workout.
At least three students taken to hospital after vehicle drives into activists who had begun attacking it with batons at anti-US rally
A police van has rammed into protesters as an anti-US revival outside the American embassy in the Philippines uppercase, Manila, swerved violent.
At least three student activists were taken to infirmary after they were run over by the van driven by a police officer, the affirm leader Renato Reyes said.
Television footage testified the van frequently ramming the protesters as it drove wildly backward and forward after protesters had smothered and started reaching the van with wooden wands they had confiscated from the police.
At least three students sent to hospital after vehicle drives into activists who had begun attacking it with wands at anti-US rally
A police van has rammed into protesters as an anti-US rallying outside the American embassy in the Philippines capital, Manila, moved violent.
At least three student activists were taken to infirmary after they were run over by the van driven by a police officer, the assert manager Renato Reyes said.
Television footage testified the van repeatedly ramming the objectors as it drove wildly back and forth after objectors had bordered and started reaching the van with wooden wands they had seized from the police.
West Yorkshire couple Laura Jacques and Richard Remde mobilized South Korean firm offering dog-cloning work for PS 67,000
A British pair have constructed biography after a surrogate bird-dog committed delivery to the first cloned puppy of its manner on Boxing Day.
In the first case of its kind, the boxer puppy was cloned from the couples dead pup, Dylan, almost two weeks after it died. The previous limit for puppy cloning was five days after death.
Laura Jacques, 29, and Richard Remde 43, from West Yorkshire, were grief stricken after their boxer expired at the age of eight in June, having been diagnosed the beginning of this year with a intelligence tumour.
The pair decided to try to clone Dylan and recruited the services of the controversial Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which offers a commercial-grade dog-cloning busines for $100,000( PS67, 000) per procedure. It is the only laboratory of its category in the world. They have heralded the birth as a miracle.
The male puppy has been appointed Chance, after a reference in Jacques favourite film, Disneys Homeward Bound. He is expected to be joined in three working days season by a second cloned puppy this one is likely to be mentioned Shadow after another attribute in the film.
Jacques said she and Remde were overwhelmed after witnessing the birth by caesarian section on Saturday in the operating theatre at Sooam.
Jung Myoung-sook, is considered eccentric in a country where dogs are still a traditional delicacy but says: I merely feed my babes Im happy and healthy
Hey, my babies. Sacrifice your mama a kiss, says Jung Myoung-sook, 61. She lowers her face and a puppy near a snow-covered kennel licks her lips; another gently paws her cheek.
Puppies bark and wag their tushes as they follow grey-haired Jung through a hillside complex that shelters more than 200 dogs.
In South Korea where pups are considered a traditional elegance and have now been become popular as babies Jung is viewed by some as peculiar. But others find her as a endorse of animal rights.
Rescuing and attending for bird-dogs for 26 years, Jung has moved seven occasions because of neighbours complaints about racket. She often stops to pick up pups roaming the street, and has bought others in danger of being sold to dog flesh farms or restaurants.
Some question whether person as poor as Jung who ekes out a living scavenging a accumulation and obtaining recyclable boxes can feed and care for so many dogs.
Authorities in the city center of Asan know about Jungs current shelter, which she opened in 2014, but had not yet been legal responsibility to scrutinize it, according to an official who refused to give his reputation because he wasnt authorised to comment.
Supporters of Jung experience her as a heroine, saving move or forgotten bird-dogs from being killed for food or euthanised at public shelters if not borrowed or found by their owners. About 81,000 stray or vacated animals, principally hounds and felines, were sent to public shelters in 2014, down from thousands and thousands of in 2010, the government said.
My newborns arent hungry. They can play and live freely here, said Jung. Some people talk about me, saying: Why is that beggar-like middle-aged lady smiling all the time? But I only focus on feeding my newborns. Im happy and healthy.
Dozens of other South Koreans are believed to be conjuring large numbers of pups, sometimes in unsanitary situations where cancers spread readily. Jung says her dogs are primarily health, although some die in fights with each other.
Most of the dogs live with her for good. She said she expends about US $1,600 a month on nutrient and medicine, and otherwise relies on donations of soybean milk, pork, hound nutrient and canned meat. Family, acquaintances and sometimes strangers mail her money.
Park Hye-soon, a local restaurant owner, has given Jung leftover pork for four years.
She lives only for her bird-dogs, he said, without doing much for herself.