yurukyara

Gunma Prefecture’s adorable mascot dances into our hearts and travel plans 【Video】

Gunma Prefecture’s adorable mascot dances into our hearts and travel plans 【Video】

At first glance, Gunma may not seem to have a whole lot going for it. It’s one of Japan’s few landlocked prefectures, which means less access to Japan’s legendarily fresh seafood. The lack of a coastline also means Gunma doesn’t have a vibrant urban heart like Japan’s largest cities which grew out of its busiest ports, so economic and modern entertainment opportunities are limited compared to Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka.

What Gunma does have is mountains, hot springs, and shrines, though. It’s also got Gunma-chan, its lovable horse mascot who shows off the prefecture’s attractions and some adorable dance moves in this new video.

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Zuuushiiihokkiii is coming! And his copyrights are as loose as his retinae

Zuuushiiihokkiii is coming! And his copyrights are as loose as his retinae

Last November, residents of Hokuto City in Hokkaido elected Zuuushiiihokkiii, the somewhat malformed anthropomorphic piece of surf clam sushi. His limited motor skills and cries of “Hokihokihokihokiii!” seemed to have plucked a particular heart-string among the locals.

Even beyond the northern city, this ball of rice and clam is shaping up to be Japan’s breakout yurukyara (regional mascot) of 2014. While development on the official Zuuushiiihokkiii costume is still underway, some exciting news has emerged from the new mascot’s PR team.

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Hokuto City chooses developmentally challenged sushi as new mascot

Hokuto City chooses developmentally challenged sushi as new mascot

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.

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Green men pitching trouser tents and hat-wearing horses: the mascots of Japan

Green men pitching trouser tents and hat-wearing horses: the mascots of Japan

Japan’s mascot obsession is known by those even marginally familiar with the country’s culture. Characters like Hello Kitty and her signature silhouette are recognized in countries across the globe, and thanks to the wonders of the internet we’re able to learn more about other cultures than ever before. But something I find that many people don’t realize about Japan is the sheer breadth of things that get their own mascots. Take, for instance, Japanese prefectures.

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