Play Furusato Catcher and catch local specialties at home!

A crown melon from Shizuoka Prefecture is one of the most popular prizes. (In Taito Ward, Tokyo)

A crown melon from Shizuoka Prefecture is one of the most popular prizes. (In Taito Ward, Tokyo)

AICHI, Jul. 19 – A new crane game service that allows you to catch local specialties remotely via the Internet is becoming popular in Japan. It’s called “Furusato Catcher.” It’s an online service for you to enjoy your stay-at-home time while supporting people in the agricultural and tourist industries suffering economic damages due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Approximately 60 game machines stand in a roadside warehouse in Oharu Town, Aichi Prefecture. There are no players in the building, which is rather quiet, unlike usual game arcades. Only the arms in the machines are moving busily, trying to catch prizes.

With this game, players can win the prize if they can pick up a ping-pong ball and drop it in a small bingo hole.

With this game, players can win the prize if they can pick up a ping-pong ball and drop it in a small bingo hole.

Players control cranes, looking at live images sent from a camera.

Players control cranes, looking at live images sent from a camera.

The catchers are controlled by online players all over the country. Each machine has a camera, and it works as an “eye” for the player looking at the live image via his/her smartphone.

 

The warehouse packed with Furusato Catcher crane game machines Players can move cranes remotely as long as they have Internet connections. (In Oharu Town, Aichi Prefecture)

The warehouse packed with Furusato Catcher crane game machines Players can move cranes remotely as long as they have Internet connections. (In Oharu Town, Aichi Prefecture)

There is a wide range of prizes, including Kobe-brand beef, premium fruits like fresh melons, jams, and other agricultural processed products. The prizes you win will be delivered to the address you choose. In May this year, the service offered potted flowers of carnation and hydrangea as the awards and successfully gathered the attention of people looking for something different as their mothers’ day gifts.

An app developer, Metro Corporation, launched the service in March to assist farmers and tour operators who have been hit hard by the worldwide pandemic. The game site has won over 140,000 accesses so far and sends approximately 1,000 prizes per month.

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