Introducing Akita Prefecture’s new mascot character -- Sui Kizakura

By Krista Rogers, RocketNews24

Akita Prefecture’s former town Higashiyuri-machi was incorporated into the city of Yurihonjo in early 2005. Higashiyuri-machi’s estimated population at the time was approximately 4,500 people, a figure which probably isn’t any higher today due to declining birthrates and the migration of younger people to urban centers.

Like many other rural towns in Japan, the aging population is now facing a dire problem regarding the future of the region’s agricultural industry. Therefore, the townspeople needed a new idea to draw people to a land filled not with the latest technological innovations, but with breathtaking natural scenery and an abundance of locally cultivated crops.

After throwing some ideas around, the people decided to try a new plan of attack. What better way to entice young people than with the prospect of a moe mascot character to call their very own?

And so was born Sui Kizakura, the adorable blue-haired, flower staff-wielding mascot of Higashiyuri-machi that you see gracing the top of this post. The character’s first name, Sui, is derived from an alternate reading of the kanji 水 [“water”], as her back story reveals that she was given special powers by a water goddess to protect the local environment and to help aging farmers with their work. Her last name, Kizakura, is composed of two characters which mean “yellow cherry blossom,” and actually refers to a cultivated variety of pale yellow cherry blossom (hence the yellow flowers incorporated into her design). Also known as "ukonzakura," this variety’s name derives from the yellow color of textiles dyed using the "ukon" (turmeric) plant. Supposedly, in the local Akita language of flowers, Kizakura’s meaning can also be interpreted as “infinite grace.”

Sui Kizakura’s profile states that the 16-year-old is 158 centimeters tall and likes the Akita Komachi variety of rice, soft serve ice cream, and cats. She’s truly a girl after our own hearts.

Sui’s illustrator, Mina Tojo, stated in a recent tweet that the town is engaging in crowdfunding in order to produce Sui Kizakura merchandise (and even a music video) with all proceeds going to benefit local Higashiyuri-machi industries and revitalize the area. As of this writing, 69% of the targeted 1.2 million yen has already been raised.

Regarding the planned music video, Akita-born rapper Rakan will be composing Sui’s theme song, with voice actress Yukiko Aiba providing a recurring chorus in Sui’s voice. Furthermore, the music video will be filmed entirely on location in the Higashiyuri-machi area. Lastly, Tojo will even cosplay as Sui in the video if the crowdfunding goal is reached.

It might seem like an unusual choice to enlist a rapper for the creation of a moe mascot character’s theme song, but we can see Rakan’s unwavering dedication to his home prefecture and home city of Yurihonjo in the following message and video clip he posted over social media:

“I’m neither a star nor famous. I don’t work for a big company, and I don’t have a family. Even as my savings dwindle, I continue to make music. Some people may laugh. But to me, having my music sought out for the sake of Akita Prefecture, where I was born and raised, is the greatest happiness. I’m glad I’ve continued to rap. I’ll make sure that the town revitalization project is a success. Never give up.”

Rakan ends the introduction by saying, “I really want to make a song.”

In addition to her official homepage, you can follow the latest news concerning Sui Kizakura on both Twitter and Facebook. If all goes well, hopefully we’ll be sharing her new music video here in a matter of months!

Source: ITmedia Inc.

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Achingly beautiful video shows the simple joys of life in Japan’s Akita Prefecture 【Video】 -- 4 Japanese beauty fads that Westerners just don’t understand -- We try eating insects — they don’t taste like chicken

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as her back story reveals that she was given special powers by a water goddess to protect the local environment and to help aging farmers with their work.

Is it really that surprising that people in these out of the way places are hoping for a miracle?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Wow! Where do I sign up to be a farmer in Akita?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That should definitely turn everything around. I mean, I always thought subsidized housing, job opportunities and training and free healthcare and daycare was a stupid idea anyway...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Where can I get the feather frilled short skirt and those sexy stockings and shoes. I am blushing while I ask.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder if some elderly farmer at a council meeting said "look, our old traditions aren't working. We're losing young people to the glow of the cities. Let's join the modern world and create a flower staff-wielding, rapping, blue haired 16 year old girl with bedroom eyes to keep the youngsters home. Or at least make a few bucks selling this garbage to the suckers" "All in favor say yeah"

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'm just surprised she's not wearing less.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

she was given special powers by a water goddess

You can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! I mean, if I went around saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I wonder how much they paid the advertising company for that idea and art work? Either way.... I think they got robbed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Maybe things will improve everywhere if Japan would stop using virtual mascot to hide the reality.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Lmao,Nice observation Fizz, that was deep-

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

For crying out loud! When will this country try growing up some!!

This is so infantile/juvenile & just plain STUPID!!

This makes the phrase, "reeks of desperation" seem like a good thing...........crazy!!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Higashiyuri-machi’s estimated population at the time was approximately 4,500 people, a figure which probably isn’t any higher today due to declining birthrates

Methinks that moe poster girl ain't gonna help reverse the declining birthrate trend

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I know some folks in Canada that would move to that town if they would let them. The have money to buy a house, they have income, but they won't get the OK because of strict immigration rules.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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