So PopularHikonyan Receives Record High of 10,000 New Year's Cards7 January 2013 - Local topics
"Hikonyan," Hikone City's mascot, has received a total of 10,891 New Year's cards from home and abroad as of January 7, according to the city's count. There are cards from all prefectures in Japan, as well as from overseas, including the USA, UK, Germany, and Taiwan, and the pace is approaching 2010's record high of 13,000.
By prefecture, Osaka Prefecture is the top with 2,005 cards sent to Hikonyan, followed by Shiga Prefecture with 1,217 cards and 859 cards from Kyoto Prefecture. Cards were sent by people ranging in age from young children to those in their 90s. Contents vary from a request to "Please come visit my town," to an announcement of a sender's marriage. Some cards have illustrations of Hikonyan in a striking pose, while others have designs made with felt. There are also gifts, including a homemade "Hagoita," or a wooden battledore used in a Japanese badminton-like game played over the New Year holiday, and a stuffed snake, which is this year's oriental zodiac sign.
Hikonyan delightedly posed in front of an array of New Year's cards at the Hikone City Hall. "The increase in cards might be because we announced that Hikonyan would send replies to the New Year's cards," said a city official. All senders will receive replies and entry tickets to Hikone Castle starting from mid-January.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)