If recent reports are to be believed, tatami, the traditional Japanese flooring made of soft rush straw, may soon be a thing of the past as people begin to favor easier-to-clean western style flooring. It’s really a shame because there’s nothing quite like the smell and natural feel of tatami under your toes. We’ve already seen novel attempts at spicing up the traditional mats with LED lights, but we’re hoping they’ll have more success with these cute decorative tatami featuring Kumamoto Prefecture’s official bear mascot, Kumamon.
Have you been wondering what Japan’s favorite mascot has been up to lately? Who, you say? Why, Funasshi, of course, Japan’s squiggly wiggly pear mascot from Funabashi City in Chiba! After rocketing to fame and winning Japan’s top mascot honors in 2013, Funasshi has been touring Japan and the world! Its latest trip was to report for Fuji TV’s “World’s Best Of Picture Show: Top Research“. Find out all the American locations a gyrating pear looks out of place in after the jump.
If you went to your town council meeting in your country and told them you wanted to make a cutesy mascot to represent your city, you’d probably get a few smirks from the council members. If you further told them that the character would be androgynous and hardly recognizable as any particular animal, you’d get a few laughs. Then, if you told them it didn’t even need to have a mouth, that it could be frumpy and clutsy, and that this could be a main draw to your town, you’d have been laughed out of the town hall right then and there.
But this is Japan, where characters are biiiig business. The Japanese have taken the concept of Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and The Muppets to a whole new level. With huge success. And now, one junior high school student is hoping to tap into the power of the mascot character to achieve something far more noble trying to get rich: reviving her community and bringing much-needed tourism to the tiny island on which she lives. But she needs your help.
This, RocketNews24 reader, is your chance to get involved in Japan’s mascot frenzy! Submit a character idea to represent this small Japanese island–and who knows, maybe your idea will be chosen! Interested? Read on!
- Michelle Lynn Dinh
Aug 22, 2014
From December of last year until this February, Tottori City held an open call for mascot ideas for a character to represent the Tottori Castle ruins. The ruins were named one of Japan’s 100 notable castles and have enjoyed an influx of tourists.
The mascot idea which came in second place was Katsue-san, the starving farm girl. When the announcement of Kazue hit, the internet lit up with excitement. However, she mysteriously disappeared from the Tottori City website soon after.
Here at RocketNews24 we believe there are few things that can’t be improved with a sprinkling of anime style – even sports mascots. So we were thrilled to learn that one mystery artist has created unofficial anime mascots for all 32 World Cup teams. If you like your football with a side helping of cute and quirky cartoon girls, you’ve come to the right place!
Join us after the jump for a host of new anime characters dressed as superheros, animals and more – all in their team colours, of course.
- Philip Kendall
Jul 1, 2014
Anyone who has ever visited Japan or spent any amount of time browsing our pages will know that the country is home to literally hundreds of mascot characters, or yurukyara, each weirder than the last. From developmentally challenged sushi to the nightmarish Okazaemon, there’s certainly no lack of originality and quirk to be had.
But one small Ibrakai town has a new mascot character that, according to Japanese net users and our own Japanese staff, “even a mother couldn’t love.” This, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, is Araippe, a creature with bird-like feet, a shell for a nose, and dangling locks of hair that are actually fish fry.
Osaka International Airport has a deceptively confusing name. First, although its mailing address is indeed in Osaka, a large portion of the facility actually spills over the border into neighboring Hyogo Prefecture, specifically the city of Itami.
Second, it only has domestic flights, as during the 1990s the overseas traffic was moved to Kansai International Airport, an international airport that’s entirely in Osaka (yet completely separate from Osaka International Airport).
But even if it’s hard to find a shred of logic to the naming of Osaka International Airport, the domestic hub can now fall back on the good looks of its new mascot, the undeniably cute, possibly worrying Sora-yan.
Japan has more than its fair share of ridiculous mascots, ranging from the absurdly muscled pot sticker, Chaozu-kun, to the snarky Yoshida-kun representing the country’s least popular prefecture.
But of all the crazy characters, our most favorite mascot to ever represent Japan has got to be Funnashi, the jiggly yellow pear. Just one look at his rotund head and undulating belly, coupled with his somewhat creepy high-pitched voice, and you’ve got something so hilariously bizarre, even a professional newscaster for CNN couldn’t keep it together on live TV.
Move over Marimokkori, there’s a new creepy mascot in town! The Japan Gyoza Association (because apparently that’s a thing) has just introduced a new character that’s making people vaguely queasy: Chaozu-kun. While he may not be rocking Marimokkori’s round green chubby, he does make us uneasily aware of his sexuality.
- Casey Baseel
May 1, 2014
When you’re in charge of marketing for an organization with a name as bland as Kitarumoi Fishery Cooperative Association, we can see how you’d come to the conclusion that your employer could use a quick injection of stylishness and visual appeal in the public eye. This being Japan, there are two quick ways to do this.
The first is to hire a popular actress or idol singer, dress her up in a short skirt and/or revealing top, and get her to pose with whatever product you’re promoting, which in the case of the Kitarumoi Fishery Cooperative Association is currently amaebi, or sweet shrimp.
We’re not sure if this was cost prohibitive or if every spokesmodel on the company’s shortlist turned out to have a shellfish allergy, but the marketing team instead went with plan B: turn the shrimp they’re selling into a cute anime girl.
Danny Choo, founder of Culture Japan and inexhaustible ambassador for all things moe, announced the collaboration between his mascot Mirai Suenaga and the Thai airline Asian Air on his website this week. Read on to find out just how far their plans for anime-themed air domination go.
It’s a common sight to see hot dog stands in America. In Singapore, ice cream stands are a lifesaver in the sweltering hot weather. In Japan, however, you’re more likely to find a yaki-imo (roasted sweet potato) stand on the streets, especially during winter. If you’re lucky enough, you might even meet the legendary cat that sells stone roasted sweet potatoes in Kurayoshi City, Tottori Prefecture!
Every once in a while we report on the bustling mascot business in Japan, especially regarding the regional cute mascots known as yuru-kyara. Often these characters are chosen to represent a city, prefecture or even neighborhood by way of election.
This was also the case in Hokkaido’s Hokuto City as they took votes for their new representative character. Thousands of citizens cast their votes for whom they felt best represented Hokuto life and culture, ultimately choosing… that thing above.
For decades snack company Ezaki Glico has supplied Japan with delicious munchies such as Pocky, Pretz, and Papico, not to mention a slew of other snacks that don’t happen to begin with the letter P! Until now, the company name was enough to grab people’s attention and promote the purchase of their tasty products. If pressed to choose an icon with which to represent the well-known brand, many might choose the 300-meter running man, as seen along the Dotonbori Canal in Osaka. However, not even he could be considered a true mascot.
Now, breaking tradition, Glico has just released official images of their all-new official mascot characters, Lico and Guri. These anime-style characters are the embodiment of cute and cool, but are pulling some conflicted reactions from Japanese Internet users. Take a look at their introduction video and decide for yourselves whether the creation of these characters is welcome or just plain weird.
- Michelle Lynn Dinh
Sep 6, 2013
Shimane Prefecture, ever heard of it? If your answer is a resounding “no,” you’re not alone. The oddly shaped prefecture stretching along the western coast of Japan is barely known within its own country, let alone abroad. But one disgruntled mascot is out to bring Shimane’s shortcomings to light, making fun of the prefecture’s lack of popularity and population, and giving the area a little boost in positive publicity online.
After two weeks of voting, Funasshi, the official yuru-kyara (mascot) representing Funabashi City in Chiba Prefecture, has come out as the number one local mascot in all of Japan. Known for his amazing jumping power and jiggly, almost convulsive movements, Funasshi bounced his way into the hearts of the Japanese people. He was joined by six other bizarre mascots, including the snarling half melon, half bear character from Hokkaido and a chubby dolphin from Kagawa Prefecture, for the announcement of the election results on August 6.
- Master Blaster
Jul 12, 2013
The yuru-kyara world watches with a cautious eye as recent unofficial mascot Teruhiko has been steadily building a fan base online. This slightly emo looking mascot character operating out of Hakodate has been winning over hearts with his cooking tips.
However, Teruhiko has a dark side that occasionally appears in impassioned tweets that threaten to undermine the otherwise diplomatic and squeaky clean world of people in puffy costumes.
- Philip Kendall
Apr 4, 2013
As we’ve seen before, Japan is no stranger to weird and wonderful mascots. Showing up at festivals and parades, these bouncy fellows wave at townspeople and visitors as if their lives depended on it, posing for photos and receiving hugs from excited children and young women endlessly shout kawaiiiii (cuuuuute!) at the top of their lungs. Usually, these mascots — known as yurukyara — are based on a something that the area is particularly proud of, so it’s not unusual to see giant walking vegetables or anthropomorphic animals representing their respective towns or prefectures.
Sometimes, though, a character emerges that is so “kimo kawaii” (gross yet somehow cute) that people aren’t sure whether to smile at it or fire up a flame thrower. One such character is the newly unveiled Okazaemon, the mascot for Okazaki City in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture.
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