Kyoto Shimbun 2013.2.26 News

Hikonyan's European Debut in July
Hikone Castle's World Heritage Registration PR

"Hikonyan," the popular mascot of Hikone City, will visit Paris, the luminous capital of France in July, in his European debut. His stage will be "Japan Expo," one of the world's largest conventions for Japanese culture. Having won first place in a popularity contest for local community mascots at the convention, the city is sending Hikonyan as an ambassador in its appeal for Hikone Castle's registration as a World Heritage site, as well as to attract tourists.

Hikone city has included 3,500,000 yen in its 2013 General Account Budget to run a booth at the Expo. This is the third time for Hikonyan to travel abroad, following Hawaii, USA in 2009, and Busan, Korea last year.

Japan Expo is an exposition of Japanese pop culture and it drew 210,000 young people from all over Europe last year. The city will run a special booth from July 4 to 7. Hikonyan will distribute brochures about Hikone Castle and tourist attractions in Hikone City, and give a performance for visitors as part of the PR campaign.

Hikonyan's popularity is growing in Japan and beyond. This year he received more than 13,000 New Year's cards from six countries, the largest number ever. The city will increase Hikonyan's performances at the castle from 4 days a week to every day from April, in expectation of his full schedule attracting more tourists.

The city's Tourism Division said, "Some fans have requested a tour to cheer on Hikonyan." Shozo Kitamura, president of Hikonyan's fan club and president of the Hikone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "I hope Hikonyan's performance will help in promoting the products and culture of Shiga Prefecture."

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= Hikonyan holding an Eiffel Tower-shaped chocolate on Valentine's Day. He will visit Paris for the first time in July (February 14, Hikone City Hall, Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture)