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Kumamon (くまモン) is a mascot created by the government of Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. He was first created in 2010 for a campaign called Kumamoto Surprise (くまもとサプライズ Kumamoto Sapuraizu ) to draw tourists to the region after the Kyushu Shinkansen line opened. Kumamon subsequently became nationally popular, and in late 2011 he won a nationwide vote of other mascots, collectively known as Yuru-kyara (ゆるキャラ), garnering over 280 thousand votes. Following his success at the contest Kumamoto earned ¥11.8 billion (US$120 million, GB£79 million, €93 million) in merchandising revenues for the first half of 2012, after having only earned ¥2.5 billion (US$26 million, GB£17 million, €20 million) throughout all of 2011. It is believed that Kumamon's cute appearance and comical movements contribute to his popularity, which was waning before a redesign and his entry into the contest.
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