“Melon Kuma” (Melon Bear) - Danger Ahead!! Beware the Bear!!

As the famous saying goes, "you are what you eat!" In Yubari City this is true for humans and animals alike, as you can see by the ferocious beast below...
In September of 2012, during this summer's record setting heat wave, we, the Hokkaido Likers Exploration Party (What's that? You've never heard of us before?), finally made contact with the elusive Melon Kuma! (Or “Melon Bear.”) 
The beast had been captured approximately seven kilometers from the Eastern Hokkaido Yubari Expressway, at the "Yubari Hokkaido Product Center Shop." 
When we, the Hokkaido Likers Exploration Party (This is really the first time you’ve heard of us?), turned our cameras on to capture an image of the monster, it opened its eyes, ‘bear’ed its fangs, and gave us its most intimidating glare.
We weren't too worried because the cage looked quite sturdy. A fact which became apparent after a group of students on a field trip came by. Some of the children reached their hands into the cage to pet the creature, a dangerous idea, but the beast made no move to eat them. It seemed that being caged slowed the beast’s reaction speed considerably.  
Although the Melon Bear is only thought to inhabit Yubari City, the ferocious nature and unique appearance of the beast have been the model for several products available as "souvenirs" at various locations, such as the New Chitose Airport.
We, the Hokkaido Likers Exploration Party (we're definitely a real thing), spotted some items available at the "Yubari Hokkaido Products Center Shop" as well.
We found magnets, cell phone straps, and file folders with this bear's unique face printed on them. They even had lucky Melon Kuma underwear available for purchase! You can also check the Melon Kuma facebook page and blog (links below) for up-to-date information on recent sightings and information on new products.
Melon Kuma researchers have been able to gather some extra information from the beast via interview. Here are some facts from the bear's profile:
● What have you been interested in lately? - "The Mascot Character Festival!"
● What is something that makes you happy? - "When I hear people scream 'Ah! It's the Melon Kuma and take my picture!'"
● What is something you could never give up? - "My ferocity and realism."
It seems that the bear has a rather serious personality.
I'm not sure what it is about the Melon Kuma, but it seems that interest in the beast has spread outside of Hokkaido as well. He mostly appears only at special events, but anywhere there is an interest, he may show up. So watch out! His next appearance might be closer to home than you'd think...
Researchers have just told us that once your eyes have met his gaze (even through an online photograph) his interest in you begins to grow.
And grow...
Until he can't hold back his ferocity any longer!
So please, please, stay on your guard!
北海道物産センター夕張店 (Yubari Hokkaido Product Center Shop)
Location : Kaede 33, Yubari City, Hokkaido
TEL : 0123-58-3331 
● Melon Kuma on facebook 
● Melon Kuma Blog
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Takako Chiba)
 (Photographs courtesy of: Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Megane.)