Because “top five” isn’t nearly enough to show off all these terrifying creations.
Japan’s obsession with having mascots for everything is pretty well known throughout the world. Not only do companies and brands have mascots, but organizations, cities, and prefectures do too, such as the extremely popular Kumamon from Kumamoto Prefecture.
But sometimes… the mascots go wrong. Instead of turning out cute or charming, they end up as hideous beasts that make children cry and leave you wondering what in God’s name they were thinking when they designed that abomination.
That’s why today we’re counting down the top FIFTEEN most disturbing Japanese prefecture mascots. There are way too many horrifying ones to do a mere top five, so this week, you get three times the usual amount of W.T.F.
So let’s get to it! Starting off with…
#15. Burikatsu-kun (Niigata Prefecture)
てり (@89Mai10vErS) September 22, 2016
The first five mascots on the list make up what I like to call the tier 3 mascots, the ones that aren’t quite nightmare-inducing, but you’d still rather not go anywhere near them.
And that basically sums up Burikatsu-kun. He’s the representative of Niigata Prefecture’s Sado Gotoji Gourmet Fukyu Sokushin Kyogikai (“The Association for the Promotion of Sado Island Gourmet”), and he’s essentially a walking fried fish – specifically a Japanese amberback or yellowtail.
What makes Burikatsu-kun unsettling is his eyes. Combined with the fact that his brown lower half is supposed to be fried in breadcrumbs, you can just imagine the unblinking eyes watching you as you consume his flesh. Why couldn’t they have just given him a smile and a couple of nice, big, round anime eyes instead?!
Oh, and according to the official website, he’s single and looking for a wife. Any takers, ladies?
#14.Tsukihashi Wataru (Kyoto Prefecture)
ささささ (@sachon__8) September 29, 2015
This creepy monstrosity is Tsukihashi Wataru, the mascot for Kyoto’s Togetsukyo Bridge, hence the bridge-thing on its back.
“Tsukihashi Wataru” uses the same kanji to spell its name as “Togetsukyo,” so that’s kind of cool and makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense is why they decided that the thing underneath the bridge should be a ghost whose only defining feature is his name on his stomach and an eternal scream on his face.
#13. Chappun Jiyan (Ehime Prefecture)
心引かれる"ゆるキャラ"発見 チャップン爺やん https://t.co/taiJY8nFGj—
MA (@52cony) September 09, 2016
Seeing something like this gives you one of those rare moments where you suddenly wonder if you’re dreaming, realize you’re not, and then wish you were.
Chappun Jiyan is the mascot for Mount Ishizuchi in Ehime, the tallest mountain in western Japan. He’s apparently modeled after a drop of water from the mountain, but all I can see is a giant egg in a top hat wearing a swimming ring.
This guy has a lot of features we’ll see in other disturbing mascots: indiscernible design, black-and-white colors, and of course scariest of all – top hats.
#12. Madori Taro (Ehime Prefecture)
あの間取り太郎くんがゆるキャラグランプリに出てる… かなりツボるwww https://t.co/C0jmZaBGrp—
音來 (@neku05) November 05, 2016
Yep. There’s just something about completely black-and-white characters that’s deeply unsettling….
Madori Taro (“Floor Plan Boy”) is a mascot we’ve seen before, and he represents Sanpuku Holdings, a real estate agency. If you squint you can see that he has a blueprint for a small apartment on his face, though aside from that, we have to question basically every design decision that went into this thing.
Why the box head? Why no clothes except for underwear? Why the gloves and oversized shoes? And why is it all in that disturbing grayscale?!
Madori Taro doesn’t feel so much like a mascot you’d want to take your picture with, but a mascot you’d want to take a picture of… to prove that your assault allegations against him are verifiable.
#11. Hiyo-san (Tokyo Prefecture)
劇団のゆるキャラらしいけど、壊滅的に胡散臭い... 東京都：ひよさん https://t.co/9Mso6lreBp—
【ゆるキャラ】可愛い?!ヤバいゆるキャラ (@yabai_yuruchara) February 06, 2017
Something went wrong here. I don’t know what exactly, but something definitely went very wrong.
Hiyo-san is the mascot for the Tokyo drama unit Kotoba no Dobutsu (“Animals of Words”). According to the bio he’s an alien from the faraway planet Hiyoko (“chick”) who originally came to Earth to conquer it, but decided to just hang around instead.
Of course that story doesn’t explain why Hiyo-san has to look like the monster that every child imagines is living inside their closet while they’re asleep at night. Or why he’s glaring with his penguin-eyes. Or why the name of the group is scrawled down his Grim Reaper cloak. Or why top hats are so scary. But hey, we’ll take it.
And by take it I mean try to forget about it immediately and move on.
#10. Takanabe Taishi-kun (Miyagi Prefecture)
ういろう (@wuirou) May 02, 2013
The next five mascots on the list make up what I like to call the tier 2 mascots, the ones that you can expect to creep up in your dreams tonight.
And creeping is exactly what Takanabe Taishi-kun looks like he’d be good at, considering he has way too many appendages.
This guy is based on the many Buddhist statues in Takanabe that look like this:
▼ What do you think when you look at this? If cute and cuddly comes to mind,
then you may have a future as a Japanese mascot designer!
高鍋大師ィ〜 持田古墳の霊を慰めるためにひとりの翁が生涯をかけて700体以上のオリジナリティあふれる石像を作ったところだよ https://t.co/TplFCBPM41—
竜胆/レティクル (@Reticle_Aliet) October 30, 2016
I suppose it’s kind of cool that Takababe Taishi-kun looks like one of the area’s biggest attractions, but still, when I look at him all I can see is a train to the afterlife crammed full of souls that are sticking their arms out the windows. You stay away from me, soul-sucking train!
#9. Shikisshii (Saitama Prefecture)
みなさーん、明日あたしのかわりにイオンモール福岡ルクルに行ってーーー!‼ しきっしーが来るよー‼ あの噂のしきっしーだよ!‼ https://t.co/FJx7A1otqd—
かっぺ (@7kappe7) November 12, 2016
This is Shikisshii. He’s the mascot for Nonaka Studio in Saitama Prefecture, which produces portraits.
The next time you look in a mirror, you’ll see Shikisshii standing behind you.
Then you’ll turn, look behind you, and nothing will be there.
#8. Nukamura-kun (Fukuoka Prefecture)
Why do we have to keep having mascots of things we’re supposed to eat?
Nukamura-kun represents Kokura City’s regional dish known as nukamisodaki, which consists of boiled iwashi fish (European pilchard) and sauce. Why anyone thought this was a good idea for a lovable children’s mascot is a question humans will no doubt be wondering for decades to come.
There’s just something about giving large piercing eyes to a beheaded fish in a place where eyes should never be that is just unsettling. It’s as if it’s whispering, “You did this to me…” every time you look at it.
#7. Okazaemon (Aichi Prefecture)
#オカザえもん #ホリデースクエア にいたから ってか会いに行った https://t.co/179ATsc69v—
いさーじょ (@isamint) August 28, 2016
We’ve taken a detailed look at Okazaemon before, but it bears repeating here. This guy is the official mascot for Okazaki City (the kanji on his face and chest spell the name), and he’s basically just a walking bad decision.
He’s got all the boxes checked off: all black-and-white, big creepy eyes, and best of all, he has officially gone on record as scaring children:
▼ The headline is literally “Okazaki mascot makes children cry.”
That poor girl in the corner is going to need some therapy after this….
ひーちゃん (@h_yuri) April 02, 2013
#6. Sento-kun (Nara Prefecture)
奈良県PRステージのせんとくん。こっちを向いてポーズしてくれました(*´∀`) #せんとくん #県人会まつり https://t.co/59sJYzsnvM—
キ徹 (@6gXBKMyPEJBbsKO) September 10, 2016
All right, this might be a controversial pick since I know some people like Sento-kun, but there’s just something about the human-head-deer-body-baby-faced mascot that gives me the creeps.
Yes, the designers wanted to combine Buddhism with Nara’s famous deer, but I feel like in going halfway on each instead of just picking one and going all the way they ended up with a monster. There’s that fine line between looking like an animal or looking like a human, and Sento-kun hits right smack dab in the center of “uncomfortably human.”
▼ As opposed to Nara’s other, wonderful mascot Shikamaro-kun.
Take this time to eye-bleach yourself before going to the final five mascots.
まお (@mlecielt1) November 27, 2016
#5. Melon Guma (Hokkaido Prefecture)
ゆみモン (@yumi_mon) January 20, 2017
The final five mascots on the list make up what I like to call the tier 1 mascots, the ones that are demons who somehow escaped from the bowels of hell.
And who better to start with than Melon Guma (“Melon Bear”), the terrifying bear mascot from Hokkaido.
Remember how we talked about that balance between human and animal features? Sento-kun might’ve gone too far in the human direction, but Melon Guma went way too far in the animal direction. Those angry eyes, those claws, and of course, those bared teeth and gums. He looks like he’s going to rip the head off the person who smashed the melon on his head.
▼ Although it seems people embrace Melon Guma’s horror, and one popular pose
for pictures with him is having your head in his mouth. Uh, no thanks!
夕張に帰って来た。メロン熊の歓迎を受ける酒井善史。明日3/3 20時〜ひまわり1階 武道場にて「ヨーロッパ企画のショートフィルム大連発2017」です。#ゆうばり国際ファンタスティック映画祭２０１７ https://t.co/725tf4tUxy—
黒木正浩 (@kurokigumi) March 02, 2017
#4. Amaterasu Shu’in (Kagoshima Prefecture)
なにこれ、どうしたらいいの... もう狂気しか感じない... 鹿児島県：婀魔照朱吽 https://t.co/2TmgFifcMO—
【ゆるキャラ】可愛い?!ヤバいゆるキャラ (@yabai_yuruchara) February 04, 2017
What… is… this?
It may have the same first name as Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess, but the kanji are quite different. The sun goddess’s kanji are “sky/heaven” and “bright,” but this guy’s string of five ominous kanji are: “seduction, evil, bright, crimson, growl.” Hooray?
The official bio doesn’t do much to help understand what’s going on here either:
“Born of human deception, arrogance, and bitter jealousy.
Wondering why humanity repeats the same mistakes, thinking each one’s side represents ‘justice.’
Even if it cannot understand this, it should recognize this.”
In an attempt to try and make sense of this, it may be helpful to note that the Kirishima mountains in Kagoshima are known as the birthplace of the Japanese god Ninigi no Mikoto, the grandson of sun goddess Amaterasu, who was sent to establish the rule of Japanese Emperors. So the chrysanthemum on this thing’s mask might be a symbol of the Japanese imperial line, and the shu’in part of its name may refer to shu’in red seal stamps (spelled with different kanji) given to visitors at shrines and temples.
Still, that’s all just speculation. If any of it was the designer’s intent, then it may have been a good idea for them to present it in a slightly less menacing way.
#3. Ojinyan (Tokyo Prefecture)
井上 (@nnp130) November 12, 2016
Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope!
This thing is supposed to be a cat. The fact that it’s completely yellow, has the face of a dead old man, and the “cat ears” on top look like they were skinned off of a cat does not help its case.
It’s the mascot for Ohta Productions in Tokyo, and according to its bio it “goes to children’s centers and sings songs.” Now I’m no expert on what kids like, but I can’t imagine this thing coming into the room without at least half the children bursting into tears… and the other half scarred into silence.
▼ None of these people were ever heard from again.
その龍が去っていって 地上に目を向けると 地域の祭りでオジニャンが 頑張って戦っていた\( ˙▿︎˙ )/笑 #夢の世界の話 #オジニャン https://t.co/PDEDCF1nJh—
Ran (@ranchanman_03) December 22, 2016
#2. Shiroi Chitei Teikoku Ninja Jinenjaa (Chiba Prefecture)
しろい地底王国忍者じねんじゃー (@tororo461) August 07, 2016
What’s worse than large, soulless eyes staring into you? Those same eyes with the addition of a screaming mouth.
Shiroi Chitei Teikoku Ninja Jinenjaa (“The Shiroi City Underground Kingdom Ninja Jinenjaa”) is the mascot for the Association for Supporting Yams of Shiroi, and he’s supposed to be a ninja yam, but all we can see is a screaming poop draped in what no one is able to prove isn’t sheets of human flesh.
I can say that if the Association’s goal in creating this thing was to get me to eat more of their yams, they’ve definitely failed. I would never dare to even step foot into Shiroi City for fear of seeing something like this:
しろい地底王国忍者じねんじゃー (@tororo461) December 24, 2016
And the #1 most disturbing Japanese prefecture mascot is…
1. Gajiro (Hyogo Prefecture)
Yuito.O (@GReeeeN17869090) October 10, 2016
Hey, I have a great idea for a mascot! It’ll have no eyes, long black hair like Sadako from The Ring, sharp teeth, reptilian features, and – oh! – let’s make it look like its skin has been flayed off too!
And thus, Gajiro was born. He’s the mascot for Fukusaki, a town in Hyogo Prefecture, and he’s modeled after the mechanical kappa that inhabits a small pond in Tsujikawayama Park.
But still, even that kappa has been known to scare children away from wanting to come to the park. So why would they create a mascot based on it? And why would they make it even scarier-looking?!
There’s not much else to say about Gajiro. Oh – actually, there is one last thing to say. Here’s a quote from his official bio:
“He hides by the rivers and steals the shirikodama from children that dare to come play nearby.”
What’s a shirikodama, you ask? It’s a mythical ball said to reside inside the butthole of humans.
▼ “Mmm, tasty!”
全国妖怪造形コンテスト (@youkaicon) April 28, 2016
So there you have it, the top fifteen most disturbing Japanese prefecture mascots. Did we miss any of your favorite terrifying mascots? Let us know your favorite in the comments, and tell us if confronting them was harder than the top five Japanese food challenges.