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Hatsune Miku might be one of the most well-known names within the anime community, despite not originating from an anime/manga.
This might be obvious if you haven’t been living under a rock, but in case you have! She is a software voicebank (“vocaloid”) that allows anyone to create digital vocals by entering lyrics and a melody. As a "character", she has exploded in popularity since her initial release and is an active virtual singer complete with live performances. Her name is derived by combining hatsu (初, "first"), ne (音, "sound"), and Miku (ミク - 未来, “future”) giving her name the meaning of “first sound from the future!”
While she is not the first vocaloid, she has been marketed as such with her CV01 codename meaning "Character Voice 01.”
She was developed by Crypton Future Media, INC. whose head office is in Sapporo, Hokkaido which leads us nicely into today’s topic of Snow Miku, an ambassador for various initiatives in Hokkaido.
Snow Miku helps cuten up the very cold, snowy winters of Hokkaido. The idea of Snow Miku was created after a pure white snow sculpture of Hatsune Miku was created for the Sapporo Snow Festival back in 2010.
Since then, every year a Snow Miku festival has been held with a focus specifically on Snow Miku(and not Hatsune Miku in general). Costume designs for Snow Miku are selected through an online competition on different themes every year. In 2023, the theme is "Sky pattern inspired by winter in Hokkaido.”
In addition to an annual renewal of her character design, she is also given a new theme song.
She can usually be seen with her pet rabbit, Yukine. In 2014, it was selected after an open call for Snow Miku pets was announced. Yukine is based on a regional Hokkaido mountain hare.
As an ambassador, she collaborates with companies and characters to draw more attention and support these initiatives. Yukine also serves as an ambassador with or without Snow Miku.
They have supported Hokkaido’s professional sports teams, like the Nippon Ham-Fighters baseball team (yes, that’s their real name. And yes, they’re named after a ham company) and Consadole, the J-league soccer team…
…tried to boost sales for local businesses like gyoza and curry restaurant "Miyoshino" and manufacturer Daiichi Rubber…
…and even participated in a subway etiquette and traffic safety campaign for Hokkaido citizens.
With Snow Miku’s presence becoming increasingly utilized in Hokkaido, the Snow Miku festival has gotten bigger and she has become a permanent fixture, even outside of winter. If you fly to New Chitose Airport, you can visit Snow Miku Sky Town.
It consists of a shop and a museum that goes over the history of some vocaloid characters, the history of Magical Mirai, a collection of Snow Miku goods released since 2010, and loads of Snow Miku Art. In addition they have a life size statue of Snow Miku on display.
Sky Town displays the Magical Mirai figures, but if you get a chance to visit during the Snow Miku festival, the Magical Mirai live concert is held simultaneously. At the concert, the life size statues are on display for your gawking pleasure.
In addition to Magical Mirai, in the winter there are many Snow Miku events and collaborations. For example, you can ride the Snow Miku Train and even take a model home with you!
Perhaps you’re less into trains and more into some Miku themed karaoke?
Or maybe you’d be interested in a number of stamp rallies! This year, there was a digital stamp rally on a Miku phone app.
You could still participate in a physical stamp rally that had you go around the cities of Hirosaki and Hakodate and physically stamp a paper map with each location’s unique stamp.
There’s also several AR events, where you could take a picture with Snow Miku on your smartphone if you went to certain locations and scanned a QR code.
Snow Miku is not the only anime rep, though. The city of Hakodate uses Snow Miku a lot, but also has its own group of tourism PR ambassadors – the Hakomen.
The Hakomen are an idol group formed by historical figures with special significance to Hakodate, but they just can't compete with the ever-so-cute Snow Miku.
And in case you’re asking, yeah that’s an anime representation of Commodore Perry posing with a hamburger… In Japan, America is apparently represented by a hamburger. And as an American, I can’t really disagree. Although the real Perry was probably much less buff, not as friendly, and significantly less greasy.
With the incredible popularity and limited nature of Snow Miku goods, they are highly collectible and exceedingly rare.
Snow Miku is probably the closest thing Japan has to hess trucks. With the 2023 Snow Miku goods being finalized and released in the coming weeks/months, keep checking back on the Solaris Japan website to see if you can get your hands on a piece of Snow Miku history!
Thanks for reading!
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