Mr. Kure may not know karate, but he knows ku-re-shi!
Kure City, located on the coast of Hiroshima Prefecture, was once a major military port for the Japanese Imperial Navy. Today the city has a Maritime Self-Defense Forces installation, but also puts effort into promoting itself as a tourism destination, earning popularity for both for its historical and moderns ships as well as the scenic beauty of the Seto Inland Sea. Kure is also the setting of the historical anime film In This Corner of the World, which looks at how the survivors of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima coped.
Even though it’s a fairly well-known place, Kure thought it could do with a little boost in the PR department. So, on 1 February, Kure announced a brand new yuru-kyara mascot, Kure-shi, which translates to “Mr. Kure” but works better as Kure-shi since its also a pun on how you say “Kure City” in Japanese.
Kure-shi is tasked with making sure everyone in Japan gets the city’s name right. Although, the pronunciation “ku-ray” is more clear when written in English, Japanese people often mistakenly read the city’s name in kanji as “go.”
So as we can see, the name of the city is figured prominently in Kure-shi’s design with the kanji for the city on his front and the phonetic katakana rendering of it on his back.
Also his spiky hair is meant to symbolize the waves of the Seto Sea which is also represented in his sparkly blue coloring.
This is all well and great, but simply sticking some words on a big blue square isn’t going to grab the country’s attention, so a promotional video was made. However, after watching you will see that no expense was spared in the making of this video which rivals any that the music industry has put out.
In the video we see that not only is Kure-shi a pretty badass dancer (imagine pulling off those moves while wearing a big furry cube), he seems to be a hit with the ladies as well.
Although cute, those scenes take our attention off Kure-shi’s precision moves, but luckily there is a version of the video that is only him dancing as well.
Fans of J-Pop may recognize the song as TRF’s 1995 hit “Crazy Gonna Crazy”, only this time the words have been altered to promote Kure City and the song has been retitled Kure-shi Gonna Kure-shi.
Reaction to the promotional video has been largely positive and is apparently also working to correct people’s pronunciation of the name.
“After watching the video, I actually think I want to go to Kure City…”
“It’s… not ‘Go?’”
“That totally takes me back to the glory days of [TRF prodycer] Tetsuya Komuro.”
“I remember seeing the sunset in Kure like in the video. It’s like another world.”
“It’s good, but I won’t consider Kure-shi a real yuru-kyara until he has at least five pieces of merchandise for sale.”
While it looks like Kure City’s newest mascot is paying off for them, but Kure-shi’s success is also indicative of a change in Japanese mascot culture. Gone are the days of kimo-kawaii (gross but cute) characters like Okazaemon and Funasshi.
Now we are looking at a potential wave of professional yuru-kyara with skills to pay the bills like Kure-shi’s tight dance moves or the rapid-fire drumming of Nyango Star. For mascots in Japan the future is now, and it is kind of sparkly.