Come to Oji for the quadcopter pup Yukimaru, stay for the laid-back atmosphere and rich history.
The smaller cities and towns of Japan have always worked hard to bring in residents and tourists to help keep the municipal coffers full. When competing with the plethora of attractions big cities like Tokyo and Osaka offer, it’s hard to stand out in the minds of potential visitors.
So the quaint town of Oji in Nara Prefecture deserves a pat on the back for coming up with Yukimaru the drone puppy. Here’s a promotion video for Oji featuring Yukimaru as he buzzes through many of the town’s more notable places. Bear in mind that, even though its looks like it at times, no CGI was used in the making of this film; this is all the real drone in adorable action.
In the video we see Yukimaru whizz around sites such as Daruma Temple, the Yamato River, and Mount Myojin. Legendary Japanese figures Prince Shotoku and Daruma (also known as Bodhidharma) also make cameos in the video.
According to legend, Prince Shotoku encountered the Buddhist monk Daruma who was pretending to be a starving beggar on the road. Shotoku gave food and clothing to the man but he ultimately died. Still, Shotoku showed him respect by ordering a burial. However, suspecting something odd about the beggar, Shotoku later inspected the tomb only to find that the body had vanished.
▼ You can see a reenactment of the legend in the bottom-left corner of this scene. It’s easy to miss, what with the flying puppy and all.
The people were amazed at Shotoku’s instincts in identifying the otherworldly monk and the Daruma Temple, the centerpiece of Oji, was established in honor of the event. I knew none of this until that little doggy flew into my life with his message of awareness for Oji Town.
By the way, Prince Shotoku was said to have a pet dog as well and its grave resides in Daruma Temple. You can probably guess what the pooch’s name was…
Again, the video looks so dreamlike its easy to forget that Yukimaru is an actual working drone in the shape of a 7th century nobleman’s puppy. Here is another video offering a closer look.
On the official website, Oji Town is calling Yukimaru its yuru-kyara which is the name usually reserved for costumed mascots with big heads like Kumamon or Funasshi. This means you will likely be able to see Yukimaru whirling around Oji’s festivals, the occasional opening of a car dealership, or just strolling through town much like regular yuru-kyara are known to do.
Yukimaru is also being touted as possibly the world’s first drone mascot. It’s a big world, however, and given the vast ecosystem of mascots here, it’s hard to say for certain if it’s even the first in Japan. But Yukimaru is the first flying puppy I have ever seen and hopefully not the last.