November 27, 12 | Takako Chiba
The title on his business card reads, “Public Relations Officer of Oshamanbe Tourist Association. Yes, the Manbe Kun (Mr. Manbe).”
Loving Hokkaido from the bottom of his heart, an avid supporter of Hokkaido Likers, and a fountain of knowledge of Hokkaido, Manbe Kun is someone I really wanted to meet. No, someone I had to meet! He’s the one who travels throughout not just Hokkaido, but all of Japan promoting his hometown.
“Hello! I’m Manbe kun!”
I found Manbe Kun at the JR Oshamanbe Station, in the adjoining Tourist Association office. I immediately gave him my Hokkaido Likers card and introduced myself. As he posed for pictures in front of the station, the locals exclaimed “Oh! Manbe Kun is here!” “Look how hard Manbe Kun is working, even in this heat!” It was easy to see what a beloved, important member of the community he is.
Manbe Kun takes his form from a combination of three local specialties; crab, scallop, and the Siberian iris. His scallop ears have black holes in them, symbols of aquaculture. He is a walking representation of Oshamanbe. Of course Manbe Kun actively promotes Oshamanbe, but in doing so he also makes a great contribution to the entire Hokkaido community.
Manbe Kun was born on July 31st, 2003. His favorite food is plankton and his specialty is doing Baltan Man (A character from the famous Japanese cartoon, Ultra Man) imitations. His hobbies include engaging in Eco activities and going for walks.
Before long our meeting came to an end. “That’s all for today,” he said. “I must be going.” I asked him where he was headed and he replied, “Just for a little walk and to visit the local kindergarten.” And with that, he left.
Visitors are always welcome at Manbe Kun’s office at the Tourist Association. The room is colorfully decorated with letters, illustrations, and presents that have come from all over the country.
Other members of the Tourist Association chatted with me and told me how some children even cry or run away when they see Manbe Kun. “Probably because he sometimes chases them a bit,” they laughed. “But, he is a very kind character, so if you ever see him, please feel free to call out to him.”
Official Manbe Kun goods are available at the Oshamanbe Tourist Association. Also, on the Blog HP, there are daily updates of Manbe Kun’s activities. He visits towns and cities all over Japan, so you might just find him in your city soon!
● Oshamanbe Tourist Association
Yamakoshi-gun, Oshamanbe-cho, Aza Oshamanbe 228 Banchi - 7
(Hokkaido Likers Writer Chiba Takako)
(Photography by Shinji Senboku of Photo Office Purobo)