When you picture an ambassador, you may think of an imposing, silver-haired multi-linguist with a sharp suit and an even sharper take on global affairs.
However, Japan’s Miyagi prefecture have just unveiled their Official Tourism Ambassador, and he brings a far more cuddly face to the sober field of diplomacy.
Aquatic Pokémon Lapras has been honoured with the title of Official Tourism Ambassador For Miyagi, and his dignified bow after making his wiggly introduction will make you want to applaud and stroke him all at the same time.
Miyagi Governor, Yoshihiro Murai, gave Ambassador Lapras his formal introduction to public life during an inauguration ceremony on July 8. The gentlemanly giant looked dapper as a striped necktie with a medal was placed around his neck.
Attendees clapped their heartfelt congratulations as Ambassador Lapras toddled on stage, his wide grin suggesting optimism about his abilities to build upon the existing successes of the Miyagi tourism industry.
It would appear Ambassador Lapras has already taken to his prestigious new role like a water type pocket monster to HM03. After he was sworn in, it was clear political power hadn’t left him out of touch with the ordinary people.
Showing a refreshingly ‘flippers on’ approach, Ambassador Lapras happily spent time greeting ceremony attendees, posing with them for photographs. He did however appear to struggle a bit when it came to waddling in and out of doorways.
Famed for his affinity with the water, Ambassador Lapras’ commitment to all things splishy-splashy will apparently be reflected throughout his tourism reign, as reported by Sora News 24.
Beginning as of July 21, pedal boats in the image of Ambassador Lapras will be available at Miyagi’s Michinoku Park, as well as the Hanayama Aoshonen Ryokoumura campings grounds from August 3.
Inflatable Lapras swim toys can also be found at 16 public swimming pools across Miyagi, including at the Akiuo Onsen hot spring resort.
Further Lapras-themed attractions are said to be paddling into Miyagi from October 2019.
Blessed with numerous scenic destinations, Miyagi has mountains, parks and – of course – Matsushima Bay; regarded by many as being the most breathtaking spot in Japan.
After the devastating 2011 Tohoku Earthquake led to a period of uncertainty for the prefecture, rare Pokémon Lapras popped up in various affected areas – through the popular Pokémon Go game – in a bid to drive up visitor numbers.
Lapras’ appointment as tourism ambassador is therefore particularly meaningful for Miyagi, who is a lovable symbol of resilience and optimism during difficult times.
Lapras is not the first Pokémon to become a tourism ambassador in Japan. Geodude has taken up similar responsibilities for the nation’s Iwate Prefecture.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.