An eyesore and waste of government money, or a brilliant economic recovery scheme?

The pandemic is having a negative effect on pretty much all communities, but it’s especially hard these days for places where the local economy is reliant on tourism. Fewer travelers mean fewer customers, and many regional merchants are finding it hard to make ends meet.

In response, the Japanese government has been giving out regional revitalization grants, and recently awarded one to the town of Noto in Ishikawa Prefecture. So what did the city use its money for?

A giant squid statue.

▼ And yes, you can climb inside the hole.

The powers that be in Noto, which is on the Noto Peninsula, decided that the best use of its government grant was the monument shown in the above video. At 13 meters (42.65 feet) long it’s almost as big as a Gundam, and it also measures nine meters in width and four meters in height. But what’s arguably the most shocking number of all is how much government money the town spent on it: 25 million yen (US$241,500)!

Even crazier? The 25 million yen still wasn’t enough to pay for the whole thing, as the final cost came to 27 million yen (US$260,900), leaving the town to scrounge up the remaining two million on its own.

If you’re wondering how a giant squid statue is supposed to help with the coronavirus, the plan isn’t to have its frightful visage scare the virus away. The giant squid statue is located outside Noto’s Tsukumall michi no eki, or “road station.” These are roadside rest stops in rural Japan that offer local foodstuffs and crafts, giving travelers a place to relax and refresh themselves while sampling the local culture.

Since Notocho is famous for its delicious squid, which you can buy at Tsukumall, the officials in charge of choosing how to use the money thought that the statue was a wise promotional use of their windfall, under the logic that it’ll attract more people to the road station, and they’ll spend more money while they’re there. Not everyone who’s been commenting on Twitter about it 100-percent agrees, as the statue has been drawing wide range of reactions:

“At first I thought ‘Yeah, I bet kids will be happy when they see it,’ but they spent way too much on it.”
“This probably will get them more visitors once the pandemic settles down, but that’s a whole lot of money they dropped on this.”
“It’s the same as how when you’ve got a lot of money in your pocket, you always end up buying stuff you don’t really need at all.”
“Maybe it’ll become their version of Shibuya’s Hachiko statue. ‘Meet ya at the squid at 5 o’clock!’”
“Hold up, they didn’t design it to move like those mechanized crab restaurant signs?”
“Honestly, I think this is pretty cool.”

It’s worth keeping in mind that the grant was given for economic revitalization specifically, implying that other additional financial pressures the town might be facing during the pandemic, such as health care costs, are either already accounted for or being supported by other special funds from the national government. There’s also no denying that the giant squid statue is incredibly eye-catching, and it’s doubtful anyone will be able to drive by without stopping to get out for a closer look. Whether it’s going to be visually appealing enough to earn back the 25 million yen the town spent on it, though, is a question we’re going to have to wait a while for the answer to.

Giant squid statue information
Ika no Eki Tsukumall / イカの駅つくモール
Address: Ishikawa-ken, Hosu-gun, Noto-cho, Ossaka 18-18-1

Sources: YouTube/FNNプライムオンライン, Twitter (1, 2)
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!