Japan is a fascinating culture, and just one example is their love of mascots; cities, states, corporate brands, and even abstract concepts seem to have a costumed mascot associated with them. Honda has had a factory in Kumamoto Prefecture since 1976 and Kumamon the bear, that area's mascot, is one of the most popular in the country. This Cross Cub will be the third Honda collaboration to feature the chubby black bear with rosy red cheeks.
In 2014, Honda created a Kumamon themed Monkey bike which was very popular, so in 2016 they released a Kumamon Giorno scooter. With the 100 millionth Honda Cub having rolled out of the Kumamoto factory in 2017, it only made sense to make the next collaboration a Cub. The Kumamon Cub is based on the Cross Cub, which is sort of half way to being a Trail 90; think of it as the ADV Cub. In Japan, which is the only place this extra cute edition will be sold, there will be both a 50cc and a 110cc version.
When asked about his new bike, Kumamon the bear said "It’s a very good bike and makes me feel like going to many places all over the world," as translated from bear to Japanese to English. Officials with the prefecture have said they are opened to selling the special edition outside of Japan as well if the public and Honda express interest. If they don't end up being officially exported, these (and the Monkey and Giorno) may be the next big (little) thing in JDM collectibles, like the Motocompo is now with fans of 80s and 90s vehicles.
In the year 2012 alone, when Kumamon mania first took hold, merchandise with his image is estimated to have sold $267 million, and they say his popularity has resulted in over $1 billion in tourism and other economic benefits to the region. It is hard to overstate how popular this bear is. You can read more about this economic powerhouse of a bear on his Wikipedia page, or check him out on his YouTube channel.
Source: The Japan Times