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.
Anyone who’s been to Japan knows that it’s a mascot loving country. Everything from attack choppers to Windows OS to Temples has a cute moe character representing it. I remember when I first came to Japan, the customs website had a cartoon schnauzer in a police uniform explaining the list of prohibited items upon entry.
And then we have the genre of yuru-kyara (loose mascot characters) who are more of the Disney person-in-a-mouse-suit type mascot. However, these mascots don’t represent businesses. They are the cute symbols of cities, towns, districts, or even buildings.
Across the country there is an intricate network of yuru-kyara, the sheer size and variety of which makes you begin to understand why Pokemon came from this country. Since 2010, an annual nation-wide vote has been held to choose the fairest mascot of the land. For the Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix 2012, 6,500,000 votes were cast to rank the 865 official mascots who entered.
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