Girls und Panzer Goods Bring Windfall to Coastal Japanese Town
posted on by Eric Stimson
Ōarai is a coastal town in Japan's Ibaraki Prefecture, not far northeast of Tokyo. With a population of 17,000 and an economy dominated by the nuclear industry, fishing and agriculture, it was once most known for its monkfish and as a weekend seaside destination for Tokyoites. But then Girls und Panzer came along, and the town started to see a boom in Girls und Panzer-related activities and souvenirs.
This fan interest has translated into a massive windfall for Ōarai's revenues. In fiscal year 2014 (April 2014 - March 2015), the town collected 7.63 million yen (about $64,600) in tax revenue. To bring this figure up, the town joined the website Furusato Choice, which enables citizens to pay their taxes online through credit. It also listed several products for sale on the site to let people "give back" to their hometown. While some of these items reflect the town's specialties, like ingredients for ankōnabe (monkfish stew), others are branded with Girls und Panzer characters: apricot liquor, T-shirts, rice crackers, bottled water, clear files, ema (wooden prayer tablets), and more.
As a result, Ōarai's revenue is now 21 times greater than last year's, with 177,252,901 yen ($1,501,460) collected so far. 160 million yen ($1.36 million) was collected in December alone, which is when the merchandise was listed. "We got questions earlier about whether there were Girls und Panzer goods in the give-back items, so we think there were taxpayers who gave back through [Girls und Panzer]," said a spokesman for the town. It won't be clear until mid-February just which items were most popular and how much was made with each item, but Ōarai is already enthusiastic about Girls und Panzer's promotional ability. "Thanks to Girls und Panzer, fans come here during the week as well as on weekends, and we're very bustling," the spokesman explained.