yuru-kyara

Tottori City’s starving mascot makes waves and suddenly disappears

Tottori City’s starving mascot makes waves and suddenly disappears

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.

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Yamagata fireworks show to introduce new mascot, Hanapon the halo of exploding cherries!

Yamagata fireworks show to introduce new mascot, Hanapon the halo of exploding cherries!

This 14 August, Yamagata City will be holding its 34th Yamagata Fireworks show, one of the biggest in the Tohoku area. This year the festivities will be represented by Hanapon, the new yuru-kyara (costumed mascot) on the very crowded block.

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Teruhiko stirs up controversy on the net and makes a mean yakisoba

Teruhiko stirs up controversy on the net and makes a mean yakisoba

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.

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The Smell of a Tanuki Monster Captured in a Perfume, Approved by the Triforce

The Smell of a Tanuki Monster Captured in a Perfume, Approved by the Triforce

Yuru-kyara, those lovable mascots of urban and rural districts all over Japan, have finished their annual yuru-kyara Gran Prix with Bari-San the chicken clinching a long awaited first place.

But that doesn’t mean these men and women in giant animal costumes have time to rest.  No sir. Just as the last Gran Prix closed yuru-kyara it’s now time for the hundreds of mascots to begin campaigning for next year’s vote.

This brings us to Takibou, the Tanuki Monster of Shaolin Temple (not the kung-fu one) in Hachioji, Tokyo. Takibou had finished 58th place (top 6%) in 2012 and is hoping to improve on that performance. So, for the first time – probably in the world – a mascot is releasing their scent for the public to buy.

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Mascot Grand Prix 2012: Mr. Bari the Baby Chicken Declared Winner

Mascot Grand Prix 2012: Mr. Bari the Baby Chicken Declared Winner

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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