Hokkaido town taps ticks for tax system’s return gifts

Courtesy of Samani town government / Jiji Press
A tick necklace made in Samani, Hokkaido

SAPPORO (Jiji Press) — Goods featuring real ticks are drawing attention as return gifts as the town of Samani, Hokkaido, offers them to people who donate money to the town under the furusato nozei hometown donation system.

Ticks live in abundance at Mt. Apoi in Samani, a UNESCO global geopark. Yuki Mizunaga, 32, came up with the idea of coating locally collected ticks with clear resin and using them in accessories.

“It was completely a joke” at the beginning, said Mizunaga, who works for the town government’s commerce, industry and tourism section.

When the town’s visitor center started selling tick necklace in 2019, all 10 of the units they prepared were sold in a week, town officials said.

Ticks transmit potentially deadly infectious diseases such as severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or SFTS. A doctor bought one to let people know how dangerous ticks can be, the officials said.

The town then made available tick goods as a return gift for furusato nozei donations, offering a necklace for ¥6,000 in a donation and a key chain for ¥8,000.

Thanks to attention to goods with real ticks, the number of donations for such goods rose from nine in fiscal 2020 to more than 30 so far in fiscal 2022, which ends in March next year, they said.

While noting that ticks are a nuisance, Shinten Nozato of the town government’s planning division said they can be viewed as impressive in that ticks are hard to remove once they bite and hang on.

“We hope that our impactful return gifts will be an opportunity for people to get to know about our town,” Nozato said.

Tick goods “are made by hand so we cannot make a lot of them,” Mizunaga said. “We hope that the items will help people learn about Mt. Apoi and the danger of ticks.”