Ota City's mascot is O-tan. As you can see from its picture, O-tan is shaped like an “O”, the first-initial of the city's name. The four round balls on its head represent each of the four municipalities that merged to form the new Ota City on March 28, 2005. These municipalities were the old Ota-shi, Ojima-machi, Nitta-machi, and Yabuzukahon-machi. By December 2010, new Ota's population had grown to approx. 220,000. Of that number, 7,447 were foreign residents, second highest in Gunma after Isesaki with 10,801. (In terms of foreign population density, Oizumi-machi ranks the highest in the country at 15%.) Foreign population is the ethnic idiosyncrasy of Ota. Twenty-eight municipalities of Japan who have large foreign populations meet regularly to discuss their common issues. Ota hosted the 2009 annual meeting. Having a large foreign population stems from the labor shortages during the bubble economy in Japan (1986-Feb., 1991), but we don't elaborate here due to limited space. If you are interested in learning more, please read the relevant pages of The Labour Year Book of Japan 1994.