The Osaka Tourism Bureau which kicked off this April is punching out a campaign named “OSAKA-POP” to achieve its 2020 target of tripling its annual foreign tourist count to 6.5 million. In parallel with this, their official site opened on Nov 1.

Osaka is a popular tourist destination among overseas visitors symbolized by huge shop motifs of puffer fish and crab along the Dotonbori. The distinctive pop aspects unique to Osaka- the gaudy “obasan” (middle-aged) ladies and local cuisine to name a couple- lead to this idea of the “OSAKA-POP” cultural tourist promotion.

Along with the official site, the bureau is now accepting image ideas for the two female characters “Mio & Tsukushi” who will represent and introduce the pop city of Osaka. Submissions can be made from anywhere on the globe. The deadline for applications is Jan 31, 2014.

Fans of anime will be excited to hear about the “OSAKA-POP Festival”, a scheduled regular event to host the “OSAKA-POP International Cool Japan Awards” where awardees will be selected among candidates of cosplayers, figures, volacoids, manga, anime and other categories. An award ceremony will be held for each category.

The first “OSAKA-POP Festival” is planned through Mar 21 to 30, 2014. For the first award of this very first festival, a selection of the Best Cosplayer will be made, followed by awards for other categories held in subsequent festivals. The application term for the first Cosplayer Award is from Dec 20 to Feb 28, 2014. Applications from overseas will be accepted simultaneously. Entries will be made via photographs, and results of a popularity poll will also be taken into consideration for awarding.

A press conference was held by the Osaka Tourism Bureau on Oct 31, where local cosplayers made an “animated” appearance to promote its efforts.