Perhaps even stranger still, this particular person has achieved an almost cult-like status among some Japanese women.

No, the current leader in 2019 calendar sales at a popular chain store in Japan is not a fresh-faced young idol, nor is it a sexy heart-throb actor. Rather, Vladimir Putin, the 66-year-old President of Russia, takes the cake in that category. That’s right, the very same exercise buff that also has claim to a fragrance in his home country and a manga in Japan is currently contributing to an unprecedented number of calendar sales in a foreign country.

▼ Putin calendars on sale at a LOFT location

The Putin-dedicated calendars are being sold by LOFT, a popular Japanese store that sells miscellaneous household and everyday goods. The company reports that it began selling a variety of “famous people” 2019 calendars back in September, and Putin’s sales have continuously dominated all others throughout its nationwide locations. LOFT actually began selling Putin calendars three years ago based on their popularity in Russia. Past calendars include this year’s version which featured the president chilling with dogs (including his pet Akita Inu named Yume [“Dream”] from Akita Prefecture, Japan) and 2016’s version which included an infamous shirtless fishing photo.

While a number of shoppers are likely buying the calendars as a sort of practical joke, the fact remains that Putin’s sales are still managing to beat a number of native Japanese celebrities who definitely have higher fan bases in Japan. Case in point–currently the second highest number of calendar sales at LOFT is going to Kei Tanaka, a 34-year-old actor who has starred in dozens of popular TV series and films such as this year’s Ossan’s Love:

The current third-place holder in terms of sales is Yuzuru Hanyu, the 24-year-old two-time reigning Olympic champion in men’s figure skating, who is often noted for his charmingly boyish looks. His second-consecutive gold medal at the 2018 Olympics elevated him to a godlike status in his home country (and seriously, this is about the only time you’ll ever see him being labeled “third” at something).

It has also been reported that a recent explosion of self-proclaimed “Putin fans,” or young women with a feverish zeal for the foreign leader, are the ones responsible for propelling these calendar sales to the top. Livedoor News quoted many of the women as saying that they find something attractive about the former KGB intelligence officer and president at the forefront of many controversial policies.

Japanese net users were both amused and skeptical by the revelation of Putin’s calendar popularity:

“Hmm…I kinda want one now.”
“It seems like it would be a good luck charm! Or that it would ward off evil or something.”
“Why does he seem to be so popular with the ladies?”
“I’d be weirded out if I went to a friend’s house and saw Putin hanging on the wall…”
“OK, legitimate question–who did they have to get permission from to sell those? The Russian government?”
“I think this is all a ploy to make him look more favorable in light of the current Kuril Island negotiations.”

Whether he’s aware of it or not, Putin should enjoy his calendar popularity while it lasts. As soon as our boss is able to strike a business deal with LOFT, we don’t see any way that the Russian leader can compete with our own annual calendar featuring our team of steamy, loincloth-clad reporters!

Source: Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso