Promotion of Regional Tourism in Japan through the use of Mascots - Case Study of Destination Branding using Local Mascots in the Miyagi Prefecture : 마스코트 캐릭터를 이용한 일본의 지역 홍보 - 미야기현 마스코트의 관광목적지 브랜딩 연구

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국제대학원 국제학과(국제지역학전공)
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서울대학교 대학원
Local Mascot CharacterYuru-kyaraDestination BrandingTourism PromotionMusubimaruKumamon
학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 국제대학원 : 국제학과(국제지역학전공), 2014. 2. 한영혜.
The promotion of regions by utilizing famous characters is a common way for local governments to attract tourists in Japan. This is because cuteness creates brand power and character industries are already well developed. Recently, local governments have taken this process one step further by creating local mascots to attract tourists and stimulate the economy. These local mascots are referred to as Yuru-kyara and their numbers are on the rise as they have turned out to be very effective in tourism promotion. Kumamoto Prefectures mascot, known as Kumamon, is one such exemplary case.

Through field research in Sendai city, Miyagi Prefecture, which is the center of Tohoku region, this study researched the role of Musubimaru, the tourism promotion mascot of Miyagi Prefecture, in promoting its home region.

Miyagi Prefecture has employed destination branding pertaining to its principal products and historical figures. However, it was heavily damaged by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Thus, regional revitalization became an important issue. Therein, Sendai has been a central part of the recovery movement.

Miyagi is known for its local rice as well as the warrior and founder of Sendai in the Edo period, Date Masamune and Musubimaru was based on these regional characteristics. After the 2011 earthquake, this tourism mascot was endowed with new meaning as logos for the recovery plan. In particular, the concurrent increase in sales of Musubimaru products signifies that the earthquake served as a stage for the mascots to become quite well known, whereby Japanese tried to support the Miyagi prefecture by buying Musubimaru products. This implies that local mascot can play a pivotal role in regional solidarity and economic revival.

Miyagi and Kumamoto each employ different designs and promotion styles for their mascots. As Kumamon possesses a simple design expressing no regional characteristic, this shows that Kumamoto chose to promote the mascot itself rather than destination branding of the region. On the other hand, Musubimaru embodies strong historical features of the region and works as a supporter of tourism promotion for Miyagi. Moreover, this particular feature of Musubimaru was helpful in fostering cooperation in the region after the earthquake. Therefore, by comparing Musubimaru with Kumamon, this thesis reveals that the local mascots can bring not only positive economic effects, but also promote regional solidarity.

The defining characteristics of local mascots are that they may be used freely and that they are treated as human beings. Local producers can freely use the mascots with the pride that their products represent and promote their region. Also, by treating the mascots as human beings, the mascots act as public figures that promote the regions devotedly and encourage the local peoples.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Theses (Master's Degree_국제학과)
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