Japanese mascots, known as yuru-kyara ( ゆるキャラ ), are cute and quirky characters that are popular throughout Japan! Mascots are a lot like us; they come in all sorts of sizes and colors, have ages and genders, likes and dislikes, and even hometowns that they love very much! Many mascots also have ridiculous talents, such as being able to speak every language on Earth, or being a 0-year old fairy baby!
Official and unofficial mascots exist for all sorts of things in Japan, from brands and businesses, to events and activities, and even places; with the most popular mascots being treated like celebrities!
Similar to robots, there are 3 laws that mascot characters must follow in order to exist:
#1: The mascot must convey a message of love for something.
#2: The character's movements or behavior must be unique, in that they are unstable or awkward.
#3: The character should be laid-back (the yuru in yuru-kyara) and lovable.
Are you surprised? We hope so! Mascots are full of wonderful surprises and they are here to spread joy and happiness... a job which they take very seriously! Mascot characters can also exist to spread awareness about whatever it is they represent. They often do so by incorporate certain motifs into their design, such as local customs or unique patterns.
When mascot characters make an appearance in public, it is known as kigurumi (きぐりみ), and they can often be found attending events and festivals. If you ever see a mascot character out and about, we strongly encourage you to interact with them --they will always friendly because they are already your friend! However, should you encounter a mascot in the wild please report it to someone, as they are most likely lost.
FUKKACHAN, FROM FUKAYA CITY
What is a Fukka? Well, they’re creatures indigenous to the Fukayashi region of Saitama Prefecture! Something like a rabbit, something like a deer, a Fukka is rare to encounter in the wild, but if you’re ever lucky enough to meet one you’ll no doubt notice that their distinct horns... are made of negi (leek)!
Fukkachan is the famous official mascot of Fukaya City! Sometimes a boy and sometimes a girl, Fukkachan has a determined personality that doesn't quit easy. When upset, Fukkachan is likely to pout, before going for a walk to let off the “negi-tive” energy.
How did Fukkachan become the official Mascot of Fukaya City? In a rigorous competition against 1406 applicants, Fukkachan worked their way to the top of the list, and ended up being bestowed the honor after being personally chosen by the elementary school students of Fukaya!
-好きな食べ物 Favorite Food: Fukkayashi steak and Bushu Wagyu
-Awards: Mascot Grand Prix 2014. Mascots Kid’s Choice 2015, Overall Winner at the 3rd Characters Collection contest!
-性別 Gender: It depends. Who's asking? (・_・ヾ
-誕生日 Birthday: 平成22年6月28日 (but Fukkachan is also ageless)
HINAHIME, FROM OSAKA CITY
A painted 雛人形 (Girl's Day doll) of incredible beauty and grace, Hinahime (ひなひめ) is an unofficial mascot from Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture! Born each year from the first sakura flower's bloom, she wears a crown adorned with the symbol of Osaka tower, and often carries a branch of budding sakura flowers.
Even among the "who's who" of the imperial court, Hinahime stands out! With a kind smile and gentle gestures, Hinahime hopes to spread goodness throughout her lands!
-趣味 Hobby: Playing the shamisen
-好きな漫画 Favorite Manga: Hinamatsuri, by Otaka Masao
-希望 Wish: To walk the red carpet (of the Hinamatsuri display)
-出身地 Birthplace: Wherever the first sakura blooms
-誕生日 Birthday: March 3rd... Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day)!
NIMIN, FROM NIIMI CITY
Nimin (にーみん) is a baby Chiyaushi cow and the official mascot of Niimi City, Okayama Prefecture. Rumored to have been born from a grape, Nimin is a fluffy purple cow with a Pione leaf on his head, and a fuzzy patch on his stomach in the shape of a peach. He is beloved by the citizens of Niimi for his friendly personality, and can often be found touring the city and its surrounding vineyards.
Known for being both curious and a rabid gourmand, Niimin's favorite past time is foraging for tasty food in the local countryside. His goal in life is to bring happiness to the people of Niimi City, and to become delicious Chiyagyu beef.
-出身地 Birthplace: Niimi City's Pione vineyard
- 誕生日 Birthday: February 13th, pronounced Ni-I-Mi (に・い・み) in Japanese
- 年齢 Age: Secret
- 友達 Best Friends: Piorin, Mansa-kun, and Chimo-kun, who come from neighboring cities!
-ウワサ Rumor: It is said that Nimin's nose ring is actually a pacifier.