Photo/IllutrationParticipants sign up for the Kurate Gakuen Incubation Base program in Kurate, Fukuoka Prefecture. (Kei Fujiyama)

KURATE, Fukuoka Prefecture--Kurate Gakuen, a virtual school, opened a business start-up program for designers, musicians and other artists at a former junior high school where it hosts cosplay events.

Town officials, school administrators and other participants reached the agreement for the Kurate Gakuen Incubation Base program on July 31.

The signing ceremony was attended by members of a design firm, an event management company for live stage shows featuring superheroes, and a music production company. Thirteen individuals and business operators have started working under the project.

“We want to make this place a sanctuary and promote it to Asia and the world,” Kurate Mayor Shinji Tokushima said. “That would lead to the revitalization of Kurate.”

The Incubation Base program is intended to help designers, illustrators, music producers and other creators who meet through cosplay events share information to start up new projects and businesses.

Program participants can use the building of Kurate Minami Junior High School for a monthly fee of 3,000 yen ($30) for up to three years. The school was closed in 2015.

Since July 2015, Kurate Gakuen has been hosting cosplay events once a month at the school building. The town office has granted free use of the building.

Cosplay enthusiasts dress up as their favorite anime characters to take pictures in classrooms, corridors and other parts of the facility.

The program to use the facility was approved as a regional revitalization effort and received grants to renovate the facility and cover other expenses.