Pula-kun, popular Yuru-Chara of Ginten Street Shopping Mall

Pula-kun, popular Yuru-Chara of Ginten Street Shopping Mall

Shimabukuro (the second from the right in the front row), the head of Ginten Street Shopping District Promotion Association, who puts out information about the appeal of Ginten Street, with Pula-kun, on May 21 in Ginten Street, Okinawa City.

May 27, 2011 by Ryota Shimabukuro of Ryukyu Shimpo

Pula-kun, a character representing tempura (seafood and vegetables dipped in batter and deep-fried), a specialty dish in the Ginten Street Shopping Mall in Okinawa City, has been gaining popularity.
On Twitter, more than 1300 people now follow Pula-kun’s tweets that talk of the appeal of or useful information about Ginten Street.
While large commercial shopping complexes are gaining momentum throughout Japan, causing an issue for smaller local shopping areas with the defection of younger customers, Ginten Street has gradually gained confidence about attracting new customers through its inherent charm.
Pula-kun is an example of “Yuru-Chara” or characters used for the promotion of private companies or governmental organizations to boost the development of the area or introduce their local specialties.

Pula-kun tags “Pula” on to the end of a word when he speaks.
Under the theme “Food, Art and Exchange,” Chinatsu Hayashi, executive director of Koza Ginten Daigaku (Koza Ginten University) created Pula-kun.
Kunitoshi Warashina, the head of AshibitWorks (Okinawa City), an information and communications technology company that created the website promoting Ginten Street, started to actively put out information from this April and now it is gradually gaining popularity.

Pula-kun usually appears watching shoppers at places such as the Kobashigawa Grocery Store, Sankou Grocery Store and Ginten Daigaku.
A T-shirt is now on sale for a price of 1800 yen.
With many clothes stores and cosmetic stores in Ginten Street, there is the plan to link Pula-kun with those stores so, Pula-kun trying to look his very best, will no doubt make an appearance in Ginten Street.

It seems that there are even young people who visit Ginten Street looking for Pula-kun.
Shimabukuro, the head of Ginten Street Shopping District Promotion Association said, “Shopping streets have tried hard to increase their popularity amid declining overall consumption in Japan, and we would like to make use of a jolly-looking character to bring some cheer to those in the shopping street.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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