Saku City turns to ‘Fist of the North Star’ to boost local tourism

The Yomiuri Shimbun
“Fist of the North Star” writer Buronson stands in front of the statue of manga’s protagonist Kenshiro at the Saku Municipal Museum of Modern Art in Saku, Nagano Prefecture.

SAKU, Nagano — Revitalization projects linked to the “Fist of the North Star” manga have been launched in Saku, Nagano Prefecture, where the writer of the hit series was born.

More than 20 projects have been announced as part of efforts to promote the birthplace of Buronson, including buses decorated with artwork featuring characters from the manga as well as themed tumblers and badges.

“Fist of the North Star” was serialized in the Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine from 1983 to 1988 and became popular for the dynamic illustrations by Tetsuo Hara.

With many hardcore fans, the manga is known for the catchphrases of its protagonist Kenshiro — “You are already dead!” — and his archnemesis Rao — “I have no regrets in my life!”

The revitalization projects were prompted by a donation from Buronson, 74, who gave the city ¥400 million four years ago.

The scale of the initiative was expanded after the city received the rights to use characters from the manga at a low price, thanks to Buronson.

In 2019, the city installed manhole covers featuring Kenshiro and other characters in front of JR Sakudaira Station, and produced cards featuring the manhole designs.

A company launched themed pin badges in August, and every month it has released a new design, with stock limited to 700 badges.

Stamp rallies have also been organized where participants can get “Fist of the North Star” goods.

Akio Tomono, 73, a former classmate of Buronson, is coordinating the initiative. “The year after next will be the 40th anniversary of ‘Fist of the North Star,’” he said. “I’d like to share ideas with everyone to inject even more energy into the area.”