Cosplaying in factory work clothes and schoolgirl uniforms is all for a good cause.
When an industry or organisation is in need of some self-promotion in Japan, a pictorial calendar release appears to be a simple solution. So far, we’ve seen hunky farmers enticing people towards the agricultural industry, and even bikini models suiting up for the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Now it’s time for a factory business in Osaka to turn to the humble wall calendar as a way of encouraging youth employment, all with a pretty cosplayer at the helm.
The calendar is being released by a company called Ohmiya, whose headquarters is located in Higashiosaka, an area ranked number one in the country in terms of factory density, and fifth when it comes to the number of factories established within its locale. Known as a manufacturing town, small-to-medium-sized factories in the area are now suffering from a marked decrease in the number of new recruits, which is largely due to the fact that factory work suffers from the “3K” stigma of being “kitanai“, “kiken” and “kitsui” (“dirty”, “dangerous” and “demanding”).
In an effort to solve the labor shortage problem, Ohmiya has enlisted the help of another Higashiosaka-based company, Bibi Lab, which has made news in the past for producing whacky products like the human-shaped “Cotton Wife” pillow and the full-body mosquito-net jumpsuit. Together, they devised the idea of producing a wall calendar filled with photos showing the fun side of factory-life, in an effort to attract the attention of new recruits.
Helping to get everyone’s attention is Ayato Nikukyu, a 21 year-old cosplayer who’s recently become known for her work as a model for Bibi Lab. Most recently seen promoting their crazy sailor suit school uniform wearable towel, Ayato has swapped her fancy threads for more humble factory work attire in this appearance, although we do get to see her in a Japanese school uniform as she walks us through the steps towards factory employment.
Ayato’s poses show that factory work can be fun, as she’s pictured in a number of workplace scenarios highlighting the fact that you can learn new skills and enjoy friendly interactions with others in a factory environment.
The photographs in the calendar accurately portray a year in the life of a new recruit, from the interview stage in January through to the refinement of more advanced skills in December.
There are a number of playful poses in the calendar too, as Ayato inspires young people to be like her or to be the lucky person working next to her.
According to the company, Ayato gave the photographer so many hundreds of cute poses that at one stage, they contemplated releasing a 365-day desk calendar instead.
In the end, they decided to stick with larger portraits of the cute cosplayer, with a 13-page A2-sized wall calendar currently being sold in limited quantities from the company’s website for 2,400 yen (US$20.40). While they don’t ship internationally, if you’re in Japan and would like to get your hands on the calendar, all you have to do is apply for a job with Ohmiya and progress to the interview stage to get one presented to you for free. Sure, it might be almost as unattainable as last year’s gold Star Wars calendar, but hopefully it gets locals interested in applying for jobs so the town can keep its manufacturing industry alive well into the future.