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'Don't talk, eat!': Japan city mascot's posters urge dining out in silence

This photo shows a Renka-chan poster as she holds a weapon in her hand while calling for people to eat in silence. (Photo courtesy of the Katsuragi Municipal Government in Nara Prefecture)
This photo shows a newly released Renka-chan poster. (Photo courtesy of the Katsuragi Municipal Government in Nara Prefecture)
This photo shows a Renka-chan poster as she calls for people to eat in silence. (Photo courtesy of the Katsuragi Municipal Government in Nara Prefecture)

NARA -- The official mascot of the city of Katsuragi in the western Japan prefecture of Nara has been attracting attention for her unique posters that urge people dining out to "Don't talk. Eat!" in a bid to prevent coronavirus infections.

    Mascot "Renka-chan" has lost opportunities to appear in public due to the spread of the new coronavirus so the city used her in posters it released in February. A city official said, "In times like these, we want to use her power of communication, which is said to be stronger than the mayor's."

    In a pun on the famous line "Don't think. Feel!" by famous actor Bruce Lee, Renka-chan holds a type of weapon in her hand as she calls out "Don't talk. Eat!"

    The six posters released this time, the 18th in total involving Renka-chan, included scenes of silent meals in cafeterias and also movie ad-style posters. In the past, the city has also released posters using the character to raise awareness of the need to avoid the "three Cs" of confined spaces, crowded places and close contact settings with other people and to address a lack of physical movement by doing "nesting exercises."

    Renka-chan was created in 2009 in response to the prefectural mascot "Sento-kun," and is based on the legend of Princess Chujo passed down at Taima temple in Katsuragi. The public response on her official Twitter page is said to be "above that seen by mayors," and her comments are sometimes retweeted by the heads of other cities.

    The city's commerce, industry and tourism division said, "There are many other famous municipal mascots in the prefecture. Even a small thing can easily become a topic of conversation, so we hope the mascots will work together to show their pride and power."

    Each poster can be downloaded from the city's website for free.

    (Japanese original by Akira Inou, Nara Bureau)

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