Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern was met in Japan during his first two-year trip outside the country by a duo of huge, mournfully dancing kiwis.
Two large mascots greeted the Prime Minister with a light sway to the slow, slightly mournful chamber music. They had a grim audience of men in suits.
The surreal scene caused entertainment on social media. “It seems to me that the kiwi broke the funeral,” one commentator said on Twitter. “So beautiful,” said another. «Looks like crying. Are you all right? ” Asked another.
“It was especially touching when the music became more boring and the mascot dances changed with it,” said Stuff chief political reporter Henry Cook, who filmed the play. He said the mascots were part of the Zespri event, a monopoly on kiwi exports from New Zealand, not an official greeting from the Japanese government.
At an event in Tokyo, Ardern said her grandparents grew kiwis. “It’s literally a kiwi fruit,” she said, according to the Stuff news site.
Ardern y Japan as part of her first since the pandemic trip abroad. Earlier this week she visited Singapore. During a visit to Tokyo, she discussed the defense with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The two countries have agreed to sign an intelligence-sharing agreement between their countries amid growing concerns about China’s confidence in the region.
Japan is a significant market for New Zealand kiwis, exporting about $ 600 million. The event marked the beginning of the summer season of kiwi sales in Japan. The mascots are known as the “Kiwi brothers”.
Members of the Japanese community, which has more than 1,000 mascots, are used in a variety of roles, from promoting tourist destinations and regional cuisine to encouraging people to pay taxes and join the self-defense force.
Said Ardern Newshub TV channel she had a special love for the Kiwi brothers she had previously encountered during a visit to Japan in 2019.
“I especially remember the Kiwi brothers,” she said. “Although they fortunately didn’t make me dance, they held my hand.”
“This image has brought such joy and admiration to my office in New Zealand that to this day a photo of my hand with the Kiwi brothers hangs in my office.”
Dancing kiwis are not the first Japanese mascots to hit the news. Some of yuru-kyara – or “gentle characters” – caused controversy. Senta-kun, who made his debut in 2008 as the ancient capital of Nara, has been criticized for not being cute enough, and some have complained that his shaved head and horns – a reference to the city’s Buddhist tradition and deer populations – will bring nightmares to children.
Definitely the most popular mascot Kumamon – mischievous black bear from the southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto. According to the prefectural government, the mascot has garnered huge numbers of fans and generated record sales of 169.8 billion yen (about $ 1.3 billion) in 2020.