Jacinda Ardern greeted by giant sad dancing kiwifruit during visit to Japan

Two large mascots, dancing to sorrowful music, helped welcome the New Zealand prime minister on her first trip overseas since the pandemic began

theguardian.com -- Apr 22
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been met in Japan on her first trip outside the country in two years by a duo of enormous, mournfully dancing kiwifruit.

The two large mascots welcomed the prime minister with a gentle swaying routine, set to a piece of slow, somewhat sorrowful chamber music. They had a sombre audience of suited men.

The surreal scene generated amusement on social media. “I feel like the kiwifruit have gatecrashed a funeral,” one commenter on Twitter said. “So beautiful,” said another. “Looks like a lament. Is everyone OK?” another asked.

It was “especially touching when the music got sadder, and the mascots’ dancing changed with it,” said Stuff chief political reporter Henry Cooke, who filmed the performance. He said the mascots were part of an event by Zespri, New Zealand’s kiwifruit export monopoly, rather than a formal Japanese government welcome.

At the event in Tokyo, Ardern said her grandparents used to grow kiwifruit. “This is very literally the fruit of Kiwis,” she said, according to news website Stuff.

Ardern is in Japan as part of her first overseas trip since the pandemic began. Earlier this week she visited Singapore. During her visit to Tokyo she discussed defence with prime minister Fumio Kishida. The two countries agreed to work an intelligence-sharing agreement between their countries, amid growing concern about China’s assertiveness in the region.

Japan is a significant market for New Zealand’s kiwifruit, taking around $600m worth of exports. The event marked the start of the year’s kiwifruit sale season in Japan. The mascots are known as the “kiwi brothers”. ...continue reading