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

Huge squid statue gave huge boost to economy, city says.

The Japanese government has provided various aids to communities to help them cope with the hardships of life during the pandemic, including grants to help sustain and revitalize local economies. One of the more unique plans to use this money came from the city of Notein Ishikawa Prefecturewhere the politicians in charge of the city grant decided to build a gigantic squid statue 13 meters long (42.65 feet).

The statue was not cheap at all. Noto has spent 25 million yen (US$241,500 at the exchange rate at the time) government grants for the construction of the Ika King (“Squid King”), and even that wasn’t enough to complete it, as the city still needed to find another two million yen to complete the 10-tentacle art installation.

▼ The Ika King at 27 million yen

So why? Well, Noto is famous for its locally caught squid, as well as the souvenir shop and tourist hub of town. Tsukumall is also called the “Squid Station”. King Ika is located just outside Tsukumall, and the stated hope was that the statue would help attract more visitors who would then buy regional products and otherwise contribute to the local economy.

However, 27 million yen is quite a large investment in squid statuary, as it is a zero yen expense in the annual budget of almost every other city in Japan. 16 months after the completion of the Ika King, however, Noto says it was worth it, saying the statue has helped visitors inject around 600 million yen into Ishikawa’s economy, more than 22 times the cost of the statue..

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

Next, Shirao and the city looked at records of the number of people who made purchases at cash registers in Tsukumall between April 2021 (when the Ika King was installed) and July 2022, to arrive at an estimate of 164,556 visitors at the time. total. Applying the same rate of 45% they had obtained in 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 this data into an input-output economic model for Ishikawa Prefecture to propose approximately 594.44 million yen of spending inside Ishikawa that the study attributes to the presence of King Ika.

The study also attempted to capture the value of the media coverage that Tsukumall, and by association Noto, received as a result. According to the study, a total of 36 television programs sent crews to report on the Ika King, and an analysis of the advertising rates charged by these programs led them to an estimate of around 1.8 billion yen. additional free advertising.


These are very impressive numbers, but when it comes to statistics it’s always a good idea to consider how the data was collected and how it is applied, and there are some potential issues. Let’s start with the Tsukumall visitor survey, which asked why people came and how much they spent. The survey was conducted during the summer when most people, especially those with children, are more likely to travel and spend money at tourist attractions. These patterns, however, seem to have then been applied to visitors throughout the year and a half since King Ika was installed. It’s also important to consider the big leap in scale in how the survey uses 1,125 survey responses as the basis on which to build a model for how much 73,652 people spent.

While the additional TV exposure has undoubtedly had a positive effect on visitor numbers and spending, the estimate of 1.8 billion yen in free advertising seems like a pretty clear attempt to inflate the size of success story, since the economic value of attention lies in its ability to attract visitors, the economic benefits of which are already believed to have factored into the 594.44 million yen, according to the study, the visitors attracted to Ika King contributed to Ishikawa. And speaking of this 594.44 million yen, it should be remembered that this is an estimate for the entire prefecture, not for the city of Noto itself.

Still, it’s nice to see that there’s some good, and maybe even a lot, coming from King Ika’s presence. Oh, and it’s worth pointing out that Shirao did the economic analysis on a voluntary basis, so his work didn’t cost the city anything.

Source: Hokkoku Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News by Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)

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About Walter J. Leslie

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