Japan has hundreds of mascots. It goes far beyond just sports team mascots, as there are mascots for cities, social movements, programs, commercials, organizations, and so much more. Even very serious groups such as the army and navy now have mascot representatives.
They range from cute to strange to sometimes even unsettling. If You Dare. The most uncanny part of this mascot is its many limbs and faces. Its design is based on a statue in Takanabe Town in Miyazaki, so now this many-faced friend serves as the town mascot.
It is actually a bit popular due to his unique look. The mascot has advertised tea in a commercial, you can buy a plush of it, and it appears on vending machines all over Takanabe Town. Jimmy Hattori is a ninja with a condom on his head. He was created to promote safe sex in Japan. He is actually not the only one of his kind, as there is another mascot called Chomu-chan who promotes safe sex in Yokohama that is a condom with a heart shape the top. Jimmy Hattori is on the list though because he looks sillier.
In countries like the United States, Jimmy Hattori is very strange since we consider mascots with childlike innocence. However Jimmy Hattori's purpose is a very mature and adult one. This pink penguin is the mascot for a pharmaceutical company, Ichijiku Pharmaceuticals. It is not only a penguin, but an enema, yes, the device people use to inject liquids or gas into a rectum. Ichijiku Pharmaceuticals are known to make fig-based laxatives, to the mascot was designed to also resemble a fig.
To meet this mascot, you would typically need to attend an event by Ichijiku Pharmaceuticals. You may get lucky and even get a keychain of Kan-chan! This gun wielding sika deer mascot comes from Hokkaido.
It hunts hunters and it pretty new to the Japanese mascot world, as it was revealed in However, Momiji-chan has been warmly received due to being cute and feisty.
It having a gun is also sort of interesting since guns are very rare in Japan. Out of Yubari City in Hokkaido, Melon Kuma was created due to the town being most known for its bears and melons.All images courtesy of Chris Carlier. Japan has a mascot for pretty much everything.
Like Benki-Shiroishia blues singer with a toilet for a head that acts as the mascot for a disinfectant company. Or Madori-kuna wrestler with a floor plan for a head that promotes a real estate agency. He told me that while mascots have always been a thing in Japan, they exploded in popularity about five years ago after Hikonyanthe samurai cat mascot of a castle in Hikone, became hugely popular, leading to a boost in tourism and merchandise sales for the attraction.
There are currently thousands of these mascots across Japan. I spoke to Carlier by phone about some of his favorites and some of the weirder ones:. VICE: Why mascots? It was my way of remembering things. Then I sort of stumbled upon an event in Tokyo where about a hundred of them were all congregated in this park and then I thought, Oh wow this is brilliant.
I was wandering around getting pictures of them all and I started to post them all on Instagram. I liked them from that, too. Is it a big thing or are you the entire fandom? Do you have an idea of roughly how many mascots there are in existence? I mean ones you could theoretically encounter in the real world. They have this thing called the Yuru-chara Grand Prix every year [where] all these mascots enter and try and get voted the most popular in the country.
That would be fun. If they were driving sports cars. Maybe a bit dangerous. There is an event at the end where you get or so mascots gathered and they make the big announcement of who the winner is. The ones that get most popular on social media tend to be the ones that are the least popular in reality.
So the weirder ones. Chi-tan the otter is very popular recentlyit does stunts all the time. That one was doing some kind of promotion at a pharmaceutical event and the display it was standing in front of was a replica intestinal tract combined with a vending machine.
What are some others? This sort of terrifying chimera kind of thing. That one runs around events sort of piling on all the other mascots and attacking them. Yeah, a lot of them. What are some of your favorite ones? I do like Chi-tan, cause that character comes out with something new every day. Some of the sports mascots are kind of funny.Known in Japanese as yuru-chara, Japan's mascots are dopey and hilarious creatures that are all-round charming. Here are some of our favourite mascots, from famous black bear Kumamon to a busty anthropomorphic sea lion — all of which straddle the line between cute and strange.
Nishiko-kun takes the two-legged form of a roof tile from a temple in Nishi-Kokubunji. Nishiko-kun is quite hip: it has been a muse for pop art, appeared in advertisements and even has its own official merchandise.
Find Nishiko-kun in the suburbs of western Tokyo, where it enjoys interrupting cherry blossom parties with its sick dance moves. This eyebrowless apron-wearing baby creature is the mascot and prince of Shimotsuke, a city in Tochigi prefecture. Hailing from the hot spring town of Yamanaka Onsen in Ishikawa prefecture, Owansan is a hybrid bowl-dog with ladybug-coloured ears. As a part of the tourist information office, Owansan helps visitors explore the town and its motif is found on maps, cookies and even souvenirs.
Owansan is pretty adorable but its combination of animal and kitchenware, alongside the contrasting ears, makes it too much of a Frankenstein mascot. Shiroi, a small city in Chiba prefecture, is a quiet town known for its lush nature and freshly farmed vegetables. One of those veggies is G-nenjera potato ninja that looks like it sprouted fresh from the depths of vegetable hell. Disturbingly similar to a zombie crossed with a potato, G-nenjer is a long root vegetable with a screaming mouth and cartoon-like eyes that change depending on its mood.
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Time Out Tokyo. Sign up to mailing list Search. We have no words for the mascot of the Chiba Lotte Marines baseball team. This mystery mascot comes in two parts — a colourful outer costume shaped like an angler fish, and an inner skeleton with its own fish head that seems to be able to exit its blue exterior anytime it wants. Have a look above and decide for yourself. This busty pink sea lion is the mascot for the Katsurahama Aquariumlocated in Kochi in the southern part of Japan.Aomori's Nebuta Matsuri Experience - Japanese Summer Festival ★ ONLY in JAPAN
Otodo-chan is at once hilarious and unsettling, her human-like body and cartoon-sized chest make for a stark contrast with her sea lion head. Find Otodo-chan on Twitterwhere she seems to be pretty excitable — she documents visits to the aquarium and the local area and uses double exclamation marks as liberally as parents do on Facebook.
Chiitan is the naughty, self-proclaimed yet unofficial mascot of Susaki in Kochi prefecture.Did you know that every prefecture in Japan have their own mascot?
They are characterized by their cute and unsophisticated designs, and often incorporating motifs that represent local culture, history or produce. They may be created by local government or other organizations to stimulate tourism and economic development, or created by a company to build n their corporate identity. They may appear as costumed characters called kigurumi in Japanese at promotional events and festivals.
Yuru-chara has become a popular and lucrative business in Japan. Kumamoto represents Kumamoto prefecture in the Kyushu region, southwestern part of Japan. Among lots of municipal PR mascot characters from all around Japan, he won the first place in a nationwide popularity vote in To begin with, wild bears do not exist in Kumamoto prefecture.
Kumamon go to worldwide! Unofficially representing the city of Funabashi, Chiba. It later appeared at events, festivals, TV programs and commercials, gaining popularity all over Japan.
Funassyi has already made over 10 commercials including for a local tea brand, for Fuji Film and others within only a few years. At first glance, one may think his bright yellow color, sparkling eyes and perpetual smile is nothing new for a country with an army of crazy characters like Sanomaru, a white puppy-like mascot from Sano city with an upside down ramen bowl on his head, or Okazaemon, a creepy ghost-like character from Okazaki prefecture.
The creators of Kumamon and Funassyi are hoping for the kind of global fame as Japanese icons Hello Kitty and Pikachu. Have you ever wondered how Kumamon suddenly burst into the spotlight back in ? It was the result of his victory in the national mascot character contest, the Yuru-chara Grand Prix. The contest has been held every year since and Kumamon was the first major winner in Voting the annual contest runs from August to October every year and people are eligible to vote for their favorite character usually the one representing their own or prefecture once a day for the duration of the contest.
Well, the results for the contest are finally in, and it looks like a certain entrant took the win by a nose. After taking third prize in both andGunma chan from Gunma prefecture was finally named the champion. So, what is Gunma chan? Gunma chan is a cute little pony from Gunma prefecture. Created in, he then was the mascot of the 38th Athletics National Festival taking place in Gunma.
He got a little redesigned since then: from a horse walking on four legs, he became an adorable brown pony walking on his hind legs and wearing a green hat.
From Japan, a Mascot for the Pandemic
His name has changed too since he used to be called Yuuma. Inhe became Gunma to represent Gunma prefecture, which keeps him quite busy. Now, he got his own blog, Facebook page, house a store actuallychoreography and cookies. The question of whether or not Gunma chan will be the next Kumamon is one that only time can answer.
Do you want to take a photo with them? Gunma chan, Kumamon or Funassyi are the most popular Yuru-chara in Japan and the worldwide. First of all, I will introduce you the most popular mascots in Japan. Teru Teru Bozu!There are many mascots in Japan and Japanese mascots are getting increasingly more popular. The number of mascots is too many to remember all of them. The mascots are made for everything from local sports teams to public transportation, in order to promote their local tourism, business, region, organization, etc.
They are so cute and interesting, they haven proven effective and the number of mascots keeps growing. I was surprised to see that even the self-defense force in Japan has some mascots like the ones pictured below. Bflat e2kiitosBflat August 18, There are the mascots called Yuru-chara in Japan. The Yuru-chara committee makes a ranking for each character every year.
I made the figure based on the popularity points that the mascot got in Yuru-chara Grand Prix in But, unfortunately it appears that he did not participate in the contest. He would have won the contest if he participated.
Torarin is actually an nickname for him.
Get to know Japan’s strange yet adorable mascots
His real name is Rinnojyo Kogata. His personality is adventurous and curious. Yuru-chara grand prix has been held every year since Some people become very serious about the ranking for their own character. It was found out that several Yokkaichi city employees used about 20, free email address and voted for their mascot, Konyudoukunin order for the mascot to become No1 in the ranking.
Although Yokkaichi city admitted the fact of utlizing about 20, free emails to increase the number of vote for their character, they also reportedly said that they did nothing against the rules and their actions were within the allowable range. The rule for voting is that you create an ID through a device such as smartphone and have one vote a day for your favorite character through your device.
Therefore, a person who has multiple devices such as smartphone and personal computer can have multiple votes a day. It was not only Yokkaichi city who made organized votes but also other municipal cities had the similar organized votes to win the grand prix.
In my opinion the rules should be changed in order to have a fair competition. The Yuru-chara grand prix committee deducted over a hundred thousand of suspicious votes from the three mascots in the lead of the contest. However, the chairman of the committee, Shuichiro Nishi, pointed out that the contest result could have been different if they removed all the questionable votes. It would appear from the article that I found, that it was too difficult to get rid of all the votes that seemed unreliable.
I made the figure below based on the Yuru-chara grand prix rankings from As noted above the rankings are flawed and therefore do not represent the most popular mascots in Japan. I wanted to include the figure so readers could see the number counts. I think it makes it easier to speculate as to where the voting might be problematic.
All the Yuru-chara involved are interesting and cute in their own way, and obviously loved by their fans. Kapal is a mascot to promote Shiki city in Saaitama prefecture in Japan. Kapal is a kappaa green goblin of lore with a turtle-like shell on its back and a plate on its head. The ancient legend of the water-dwelling kappa is associated with Shiki, a city through which three rivers pass.
Please click here to see the website of Kapal. Jabow is the mascot of Omuta city in Fukuoaka prefecture in Japan. The city has a mining history and a snake festival. Please click here to see the website of Jabow. Konyuudoukun is the mascot of Yokkaichi city in Mie prefecture in Japan. He was born in August 1st in They are characterized by their kawaii cute and unsophisticated designs, often incorporating motifs that represent local culture, history or produce.
They may be created by local government or other organizations to stimulate tourism and economic development, or created by a company to build on their corporate identity.
They may appear as costumed characters or kigurumi at promotional events and festivals. Popular yuru-chara include KumamonFunassyiand Chiitanwho have gained international recognition and have reached celebrity status in Japan. Yuru-chara are often designed by amateur artists, and many designs are seen as naive or poorly executed,  or can appear to oversimplify what they represent. These "amateurish" or flawed aspects are what set yuru-chara apart from professionally created corporate mascots e.
Domo-kunprofessional sports mascots such as those of Nippon Professional Baseball teamsand commercially oriented characters such as Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma - all of which are also commonplace in Japan.
The popularity of mascots like yuru-chara in Japan has been linked to historical emotional bonds to non-human characters, such as in ancient polytheism. Although the concept had been around for some time, the start of the "yuru-chara boom" is accredited to Hikonyan who was created in to mark the th anniversary of the founding of Hikone Castle and created a significant increase in tourism and merchandise sales for castle and the city.
Since then, the number of yuru-chara increased throughout the country. Some mascots have also appeared in international conventions, such as Funassyi and Kumamon in the Japan Expo in Paris, France; and a small group in the Japan Matsuri in London. On October it surpassed 3, character entries.
The proliferation of yuru-chara by has become problematic in some regions. Inthe Osaka government expressed concern that there were too many local mascots, and it was diluting brand identity. Previous winners include Hikonyan and Kumamon. There were 1, entrants in the Grand Prix, over ten times the number in the first contest.
Results were announced on 23 November with Around 77, people attended the awards event in Hamamatsu. Yuru-chara gatherings have been involved in creating two Guinness World Records :. Yuru-chara try to portray some aspect of the place they are representing, be it local produce, a historical figure or legend, local wildlife, architecture or geography.
This is often incorporated into their physical appearance in an amusing or unusual way, e. Their name may also be a play on wordssuch as with Kumamon. In public appearances, most yuru-chara are silent, and usually act in a playful or childish manner. Many yuru-chara have various associated merchandise as an alternative source of income.
These typically include stuffed toyskeychainssticker sets for Line a popular instant messaging system in Japan and stationery. They have also released a single,  and often perform at yuru-chara events.
Funassyi and Kumamon have made appearances in releases of the Taiko no Tatsujin video games. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in Japanese. November Click [show] for important translation instructions.
10 Japanese Mascots You Won’t Believe Actually Exist
View a machine-translated version of the Japanese article.A few, such as Hello Kitty and Pikachu, have achieved international superstardom. But many more quietly populate the daily lives of citizens.
Illustrated signs that feature choruses of anthropomorphic garbage exhort citizens not to litter; super-cute drawings of tsunamis warn residents away from dangerous shorelines. In drugstores, grinning enemas helpfully guide those in gastrointestinal distress to the proper medicine. Every prefecture has its own furry-costumed cheerleader, usually a whimsical personification of a regional dish or tourist attraction.
And then there is the national Quarantine Information Office, which advises on customs procedures. So it makes sense that, amid troubling times, Japanese have turned to a character for solace.
The twist is that this particular one dates back to the nineteenth century. It was first documented in an early form of newspaper known as a kawarabanin This issue has a charmingly amateurish sketch of a three-legged, mermaid-like creature covered in scales, with the head of a bird topped by flowing locks of hair. He spotted it atop the waves off the coast of Kyushu after being dispatched to investigate a strange light.
The creature gave its name and prophesied a good harvest. Or not exactly. A clipping of the original article survives in the archives of Kyoto Universitywhere it is well known to Japanese folklorists. Other artists quickly followed with their own portrayals, ranging from the sexy to the super kawaii.
Fatal waves of highly infectious disease have bedevilled Japan since the dawn of recorded history—along with quietly persistent slow killers such as polio, tuberculosis, and syphilis. Take the spectacular Daibutsu of Todai-ji temple, located in the city of Nara. The fifteen-metre-tall Great Buddha is a towering presence in Japanese culture, literally and figuratively. The grounds of Todai-ji are a tranquil place, verdant and populated by tame deer.
Few visitors are aware that the statue was erected in part to curb the spread of a deadly virus: smallpox. An epidemic in proved so horrific that it wiped out nearly a third of the Japanese population over two years. The Great Buddha, completed aroundrepresented a highly organized national effort to soothe a society thrown into chaos by disease. Its construction was a sort of religious Apollo Project, so ambitious that it nearly bankrupted the Japanese economy in the process. On a smaller scale, the Japanese people have, over the centuries, turned to a dizzying array of supernatural presences for protection from disease on a regional and even personal level.
It is what is known in Japan as a yokai —a creature from Japanese folklore. Though many yokai do indeed appear ghostly or monstrous, not all are malicious; some are simply mischievous or even beneficial to have around. Some are humanoid or animal, others vegetable or mineral. A great many are sentient physical objects, quotidian items from daily life that have taken uncanny form after being carelessly discarded.
There are haunted sandals, paper lanterns, and kimonos. There is even, deep in the lore, a yokai futon coverlet. You may even be familiar with a few: kappamaki sushi rolls are named for a yokai with a penchant for cucumber, while the ubiquitous Tom Nook, from the Animal Crossing game series, is based on a tanukia shape-shifting trickster animal from many a folktale.
Tokyo, known as Edo untilwas home to a bustling publishing industry that produced huge numbers of illustrated publications intended for everyone from children to sophisticated urbanites. Talented artists such as Toriyama Sekien, his disciple Kitagawa Utamaro, and even the great Hokusai regularly produced yokai art based on folklore or literature, charming readers by visualizing what had, to that point, been invisible.