- The seaside town of Noto commissioned a gigantic squid statue, which cost around $228,500.
- The city’s government received around $7.3 million in grants to tide them over during the COVID pandemic.
- Officials weren’t required to the funds on COVID relief measures – so they spent part of it on the squid, billing it as a tourist attraction.
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A 13.11m long statue of a squid has surfaced in the Japanese seaside town of Noto, but its presence is not floating everyone’s boats.
According to the BBC, the squid drew criticism when Noto government officials revealed they’d used a chunk of the 800 million yen ($7.3 million) COVID relief grant provided to the town to commission the statue – which cost 25 million yen ($228,500).
Squid is considered a delicacy in Noto, a sleepy fishing town in northern Japan home to around 17,000 people. The cephalopod, which is fished in the seas off Noto, can be used in almost every type of dish, from sushi to sashimi and tempura. It is also found in stews – known as nabemono – and can be made into ikayaki, a method of grilling the squid and topping it with soy sauce.
According to the Chunichi Shimbun, officials intended the squid statue to be both a playset for children and an Instagrammable tourist hotspot to promote Noto as a “squid town.”
In a YouTube video, a curious visitor who encounters the squid statue filmed it from all angles, detailing its gaping maw and tentacles.
Noto town officials justified the use of funds initially meant for COVID relief in an interview with Yahoo Japan, saying that the grant – earmarked for regional revitalization – did not necessarily have to be used on COVID-related measures.
“Since the national government said funds could be used to enhance the region’s appeal, we thought it would be good to make something with impact. It will promote our town and have some economic benefit, as we have seen a huge dip in the number of tourists,” an unnamed official told Yahoo Japan.
Ishikawa – the prefecture that Noto is located within – has only recorded 398 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, but Japan is still grappling with surging cases in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
The country has seen a total of 610,000 cases and 10,391 deaths from COVID, and the Japanese government in April put a quarter of its population under a state of emergency to bring the pandemic under control.