Owner is easily the coolest clown around.

As we reported earlier, Japan’s long-running puffed corn snack Umaibo begrudgingly raised their price for the first time in 42 years, from 10 yen to 12 yen (US$0.09). After the price hike went into effect on 1 April, the makers of Umaibo released a series of newspaper ads apologizing for the inconvenience and thanking fans for their continued patronage.

Each ad featured messages of support from those most affected by the change, kids and candy store owners, but there was one in particular that stood out in the crowd.

This clown might not be immediately recognizable to many, but his band New Rote’Ka made quite a splash during the pop punk heyday of the ‘90s. With good reason too, because their songs were really catchy, thanks in large part to vocalist Atsushi, who also goes by the stage name Acchan.

His presence in an Umaibo ad decades later might seem like one of those intentionally wacky non-sequitur gags like Cup Noodle often employs, but Atsushi’s connection to snacks and candy goes much deeper.

The vocalist quite literally grew up as a kid in a candy store that his family founded in 1951 in Hachioji, Tokyo. The Fujiya candy store — which is not connected to the “Fujiya” that makes Milky, but does sell their candy — still stands after 71 years. Visiting it you might be greeted by an older gentleman with a warm smile and have no idea that his alter ego is the clown prince of punk.

▼ Atsushi (center) in front of Fujiya

In 1998, Atsushi’s father passed away, and he decided to take over the family business. However, he also remains very active as a musician and continues to perform live several times a month. Taking both careers equally seriously, he’s in a unique position to enjoy admiration both as a pillar of his local community and from music fans across the country.

▼ New Rote’Ka

New Rote’Ka fans often come to Fujiya in the hopes of meeting Atsushi, and can even buy concert DVDs among the shelves of candy. Meanwhile, the kids and grandparents who regularly buy candy from there always get a pleasant surprise when they see their local candy man on TV.

▼ TV segment featuring Atsushi’s PR song for Hachioji area

However, the pandemic has been hard on both businesses. Of course, opportunities to perform live evaporated greatly over the past two years, but on top of that, local independent candy shops like Fujiya earn a lot of revenue from bulk buys made by festival organizers. Without events it became harder to sell as much candy as well.

Nevertheless, Atsushi persevered and both businesses are still going full steam ahead. During the pandemic he also graciously released Acchan, a 2015 documentary about his life on YouTube for free and with English subtitles.

Both of his jobs are truly a testament to longevity and endurance. So, when he lends his support to Umaibo and the classic snack replies, “let’s all hang in there together,” it hits a little deeper that the average advertisement.

Store information
Fujiya / 藤屋
Tokyo-to, Hachioji-shi, Honmachi 3-9

Source: PR Times, Hot Pepper, New Rote’Ka
Images: PR Times
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