Photo: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)

Japanese town that spent ¥25 million in COVID money on giant squid statue says it paid off big

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The Japanese government has provided various aid to communities to help them cope with the difficulties of life during the pandemic, including grants to help sustain and revitalize local economies. One of the more unique plans for using that money came from the city of Noto, in Ishikawa Prefecture, where the politicians in charge of the town’s grant decided to build a gigantic 13-meter-long statue of a squid.

The statue was not at all cheap. Noto spent 25 million yen of government grant money building the Ika King (“Squid King”), and even that wasn’t enough to finish it, as the city still had to come up with another two million yen to complete the 10-tentacle art installation.

So…why? Well Noto is famous for its locally caught squid, and the town’s roadside souvenir shop and tourist center Tsukumall is also called the “Squid Station.” The Ika King is located right outside Tsukumall, and the stated hope was that the statue would help attract more visitors who would then purchase regional products and otherwise contribute to the local economy.

27 million yen is a pretty huge investment in squid statuary though, seeing as how that’s a zero-yen expense in the annual budget of almost every other town in Japan. 16 months after the completion of the Ika King, though, Noto is saying it was worth it, claiming that the statue has resulted in visitors pumping approximately 600 million yen into Ishikawa’s economy, more than 22 times the cost of the statue.


To calculate the Ika King’s economic effect, Noto was assisted by Tokyo-based business consultant Toshiro Shirao. In a Tsukumall visitor survey conducted between June and August of this year, out of 1,125 people 506 of them (45 percent) said they’d come because they wanted to see the Ika King. They were also asked how much they had spent while at Tsukumall.

Next, Shirao and the city looked at records of how many people had made purchases at Tsukumall’s cash registers between April of 2021 (when the Ika King was installed) and July of 2022, arriving at an estimate of 164,556 total visitors. Applying the same 45-percent rate that they’d gotten from this summer’s visitor survey, they came to estimate that 73,652 people have come to see the Ika King since its completion. Shirao then fed that data into an economic input-output model for Ishikawa Prefecture to come up with an estimated 594.44 million yen in inside-Ishikawa spending that the study attributes to the Ika King’s presence.

The study also attempted to account for the value of the media coverage Tsukumall, and by association Noto, has received as result. According to the study, a total of 36 television programs sent crews out for reports on the Ika King, and an analysis of the advertising rates charged by those programs led them to an estimate of roughly 1.8 billion additional yen in free publicity.

Those are some very impressive figures, but when dealing with statistics, it’s always a good idea to consider how the data was collected and how it’s being applied, and there are a few potential issues. Let’s start with the Tsukumall visitor survey, which asked why people had come and how much they spent. The survey was conducted during the summer, when most people, especially those with kids, are more likely to be traveling and spending money at tourist attractions. Those patterns, though, seem to have then been applied to visitors throughout the entire year and a half since the Ika King’s installation. Also important to consider is the large jump in scale in how the survey uses 1,125 survey responses as a base on which to build a model for how much 73,652 people spent.

While the extra TV exposure no doubt had a positive effect on visitor and spending numbers, the estimated 1.8 billion yen of free publicity feels like a pretty clear attempt to inflate the size of the success story, since the attention’s economic value is in its ability to attract visitors, whose economic benefit is already supposed to have been accounted for in the 594.44 million yen the study says Ika King-attracted visitors have contributed to Ishikawa. And speaking of that 594.44 million yen, it’s worth remembering that it’s an estimate for the entire prefecture, not the town of Noto itself.

Still, it’s nice to see that there’s some good, and maybe even a whole lot of it, coming from the Ika King’s presence. Oh, and it should be pointed out that Shirao carried out the economic analysis on a volunteer basis, so his work didn’t cost the town a thing.

Sources: Hokkoku Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Drink, cook, eat — New “Ika Glass” is a cup made entirely of squid【Pics】

-- Japanese town builds 42-foot, 25 million-yen squid statue as coronavirus response plan【Video】

-- First ever Pringles instant cup ramen noodles are coming to Japan

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Those are some very impressive figures, but when dealing with statistics, it’s always a good idea to consider how the data was collected and how it’s being applied, and there are a few potential issues.

Interesting that an article questions or points out and questions, the manner in which the statistics are collected, analyzed and disseminated here.

Ah right, it's about something unique and unusual, and something some might say "off the wall". But everyone else takes the statistics put out by "other" sources as being infallible and above question.

I for one think the folks came up with a great idea. They used it to build/create something that will give money back to the community, and advertise what they are famous for as well.

At least they are getting money back on their "investment" and the money is going to the people who need it, businesses and their employees, who were hurt the most during the pandemic.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

As mentioned it is quite refreshing to see a proper way to report on fuzzy statistics, obviously the people in charge of the spending will do their best to present the data in the most positive way they can find, so making assumptions that produce the highest benefit is an obvious choice.

Still, it seems that the benefit is there (just not as important as they are trying to present it) and their gamble to attract people in a time where it was very necessary worked out.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

This will be a particularly weird abandoned Japanese attraction in the next decade or so.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Something to remember about stats and surveys!

When I was in my last year of high school I had a summer job with stars Canada calling people up to ask questions 9 out of 10 people hung up or refused to answer any questions and those that did answer where more likely to very similar in attitude and their answers where nearly identical.

This is one reason why it became law in most cases to answer stats Canada official surveys. Otherwise they couldn't get and accurate image on the subject.

Yes sounds strange but on important official surveys we would had the names telephone number address of the person say we have a survey and if they said no we said it is the law you can be fined for refusing.

This shows how inaccurate voluntary poles and surveys are!

I am not the type if stopped to accept filling in a survey and people with my thinking are often the same.

So here is just a personal observations.

People that are easily influenced by something like a TV report on a giant squid are more likely to accept taking a survey, those more likely to think it was a stupid waste of money are more likely to tell the survey taker to get out of their way as they are busy.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

it should be pointed out that Shirao carried out the economic analysis on a volunteer basis, so his work didn’t cost the town a thing

If people believe this, Shirao can probably now charge what he wants to every other town in Japan seeking to justify whatever its white elephant spending is.

The best thing about this is that the squid catch is now 95% down on peak numbers 40-50 years ago. Most squid fishermen there will be ex-fishermen.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

能登町 Noto Chou which is the town I live in really did well with this idea. My family and I often visit here and my daughter really likes the Squid stature. The イカの駅つくモール(Ika No Eki Tsukumoru) is located near Ogi port which is very famous for Squid fishing and for the Tomobata Matsuri in May at the beginning of the Squid fishing season and the Ogi Kiriko Matsuri in early September though both were canceled the last few years. Ika no eki is located right near 九十九湾 (tukumo wan) which is a beautiful small bay you can walk on the shore line and look upon Toyama Bay see the Northern alps of Toyama and Niigata as well as enjoy the clear water and sea life.

The unfortunate thing is Noto Peninsula and even Noto Chou is often looked over by foreign residents and even many Japanese but it really has a lot to offer with its natural beauty, food, culture, and Matsuri. Its a great place for meditation and Yoga if your into the Vedic studies. It really is a nice place to visit on a holiday.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Build a giant squid statue and they will come. Lol.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The calculation method is a bit questionable, because the 45% people who (only) want to see the artwork, might turn out not so big squid lovers and vice versa. But anyway, the gamble paid off quite a factor, congratulations. The trick probably was, to have the idea and do it first, because if now any other villages or cities copy that idea, it won’t turn out such profitable in most cases, as it is not kind of unique anymore.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Next step...giant squid nominated for UNESCO Heritage, lol.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Hachima Kiko:

"Noto spent 25 million yen of government grant money"

"27 million yen is a pretty huge investment in squid"

25? 27? maybe 26? What's the real price?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Money better spent here, than any Abe funeral related event. That's for sure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites