Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chiba Kun Ambassadors

The Chiba Prefectural Government, under the International Affairs Division recently launched a project called the "Ambassadors to Spread Chiba Prefecture's Charm to the World Together with Chiba Kun" (チーバくんと共に千葉県の魅力を海外に向けて発信する大使), abbreviated as "Chiba Kun Ambassadors" (チーバくん大使).

To those who are not familiar with Chiba Kun, this red creature was designed by Chiharu Sakazaki (坂崎千春), the same artist who designed the penguin character on JR East Suica card. Chiba Kun made its first appearance on January 11, 2007, which is considered as its birthday. It was the mascot for the 65th National Sports Festival and the 10th National Sports Festival for the Disabled, held in Chiba last year. From then on, Chiba Kun's popularity soared greatly and on January 1, 2011 onwards, it was made the mascot character for Chiba prefecture.

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This is Chiba Kun, which resembles the map of Chiba prefecture when looked from sideways.

So, what does a Chiba Kun Ambassador do?

To qualify to be a Chiba Kun ambassador, the most basic requirement is that one must be of any nationality but a Japanese. This includes international and exchange students plus foreign residents living in Chiba prefecture, who will proactively explore Chiba prefecture both individually and through participation in sponsored-tours by the International Affairs Division, that include cultural workshops and visits to Chiba prefecture's various popular tourist spots.

The Chiba Kun Ambassadors will then use these experiences to promote Chiba prefecture's many attractions in their native language through their personal blogs, Facebook and other social networking site.

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An envelope with some documents and pamphlets on Chiba prefecture, distributed during the briefing session before the appointment ceremony.

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The "Chiba Kun Ambassador" badge that were distributed to us. This badge is a limited edition item and are not found in any souvenirs shop selling Chiba Kun's merchandise.

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Finally, Chiba Kun made the long-awaited appearance!

I was fortunate enough to be selected among the twenty four foreigners from twelve different countries (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Hungary) to be the Chiba Kun Ambassadors. A special appointment ceremony was held recently at the Multipurpose Hall of the Chiba Prefectural Government Office.

It was a simple ceremony, where the Chiba Kun Ambassadors were presented with their certificate of appointment by the Chief of the International Affairs Division, Mr Ishii, followed up by a short remarks by the Kensaku Morita, the Governor of Chiba prefecture. The ceremony was wrapped up with a group photo session with the Governor and Chiba Kun.

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Getting ready to receive the letter of appointment from Mr Ishii.

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The certificate of appointment, signed by the Governor.

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The Chiba Kun Ambassadors, listening attentively to the short but interesting speech by the Governor, who made it to the ceremony despite his tight schedule.

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The Governor made a humorous remark about the cute Chiba Kun.

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Chiba prefecture did not escape from feeling the effect of the earthquake and tsunami disaster earlier this year. The most affected area was tourism industry 
as the number of visitors to Chiba dropped quite drastically compared to the previous years.

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Each of us get to take a personal photo with Chiba Kun.

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And finally, the group photo of the twenty four Chiba Kun Ambassadors with the Governor and Chiba Kun.

This is the end of my first report about this project. However, it is just the beginning because today, I just returned from our first trip to Narita, which was a really fantastic trip. More on that in coming entries!

Thank you for reading.

4 comments:

Calyn Ong said...

OMG CONGRATS! :D

DT said...

Hahaha... congrats... so are u going to get a Chiba Kun mascot costume? I wanna c u in one, leh... heheheh!!!

calvin said...

@ calyn ong:
thanks. i wish each of us are given the red custome of chiba kun haha! =P

calvin said...

@ dt:
i don't think so, but i would love to try it one day hehe xD