Regardless of where you live, almost everyone has heard of Vladimir Putin. He has held many positions in Russia over the years, but he is currently the nation’s president. He works hard to promote a personality cult of his own image. Most famously, this includes riding a horse shirtless in the cold. It is this carefully crafted image that makes its way to other nations. No single item highlights this packaging better than the Putin calendar, an international best seller. The latest country to go crazy over these weird wall hangings is Japan.
At this point, there are probably three thoughts in your head. First of all, who would buy one of these? No, seriously, who is buying a calendar with 12 months of Putin pictures? Second, is Donald Trump in any of the images? The answer is no. Finally, where can I buy one? If you are in Japan, head down to your local Loft store. As a result of government restrictions, they are the only entity authorized to sell the calendar in the country. Yet, it should come as no surprise that the Putin calendar is officially sanctioned by the Russian government. The St. Petersburg-based manufacturing company Mednyi Vsadnik produces it. In addition, the calendar comes in eight languages, including Japanese and English.
By the start of the year, Loft had already sold almost 350,000 of the calendars. The company’s flagship store in Tokyo prominently displays the calendar. It also comes in both a wall and desk size. The most noteworthy similarity between the two styles is that Vladimir Putin’s birthday, October 7, is the only official holiday listed in the entire calendar. The calendar’s existence has even spread to social media, with thousands using a hashtag that roughly translates to ‘masculine wall.’ This reflects the popular view that Putin is an almost ideal form of foreign masculinity in Japan.
A spokeswoman for Loft suggested that the strange calendar’s popularity reflected excitement both before and as a result of the Russian president’s visit in December 2016. Indeed, the Japanese feel a great deal of respect for the foreign leader since Russia sent aid to help in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Consequently, the nation sent the Russian president an Akita dog as a token of appreciation in 2012. The month of August features a picture of Putin and his pup frolicking in the snow. Other months include photographs that highlight his prowess in judo, fishing, hockey, parachuting, flying in a fighter jet, wearing sunglasses, and standing in front of trees.