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.
Taimee, from Minami Ise
In the tranquil sea-side prefecture of Mie, there exists a fish like no other! Taimee is the official mascot of the town of Minami Ise!
Taimee's father was a Sea Bream named TaiTarou (父:鯛太郎), and their mother was a mandarin orange (母:みかん). The fish of Minami Ise is of course the Sea Bream (鯛-Tai), as the town takes great pride in its aquaculture. This is the same 鯛 (Tai) that the snack (Taiyaki) gets its name from! The tree of Minami Ise is the mandarin orange tree (みかん). The town of Minami Ise is proud of its oranges, which are reported to be sweet, with a rich flavor! The heart on Taimee's stomach is based on the famous Heart-Shaped Pond (better translated to Heart-Shaped Bay) of Minami Ise, which seriously looks like a heart when viewed from above. The flower pouch that Taimee always carries is in fact a Sakura. Minami Ise's flower is the Sakura, and in the spring a lot of people come to experience the Sakura tunnel on main street.
-出身地 Birthplace: Minami Ise
- 誕生日 Birthday: October 1st
-性別 Gender: Currently unknown
- 好きな食べ物 Favorite food: Sea Bream fish and mandarin oranges from Minami Ise
-趣味 Hobby: Traveling all over Japan
CHI-TAN THE TAMBATITANIS
Did you know that there's a Dinosaur only found in one place on Earth... Japan's Hyogo prefecture? That's right, Chi-tan the Tambatitanis is based on an actual dinosaur fossil, and just so happens to be the official mascot for Tamba City!
This cute dinosaur is made up of the Earth's strata, and is on a mission to cherish life forever! The plant on his head represents how new life on Earth springs forth from the old, and is meant to be a hopeful sign for the future.
Chi-tan can often be found hanging around Tamba City's Dinosaur Jersey Park and museum.
Have a look at the facts:
- 誕生日 Birthday: 100 million years ago
-Residence: Hyogo Prefecture, Tanba City, Sannan District, Sasayama Sougun
-Likes: Tamba's clean air and water
-Friends and Family:
Father: Toutan? （お父たん）?
Mother: Kaatan? （お母たん） ?
Friend: Kerotan the frog? (ケロたん)？
-Special skills: Protecting the earth that has created many lives, and cherishing life through eternity!
KABUKKI, FROM KOMATSU CITY
Kabukki is based after the leading character Benkei, from the classic Edo period Kabuki drama “Kanjincho” from the “Heisei Monogatari”. In the story, Benkei and his lord Yoshitsune disguise themselves as traveling monks to sneak through enemy territory.
Kabukki works tirelessly as the “charm of Komatsu’s PR department” (not an easy job you know) and keeps everyone inspired with his catchphrase “Nankantoppa!” or “Break through obstacles!”. He is usually seen sporting his snazzy orange Hakama embroidered with the Komatsu emblem, but if you catch him in the garden you might catch a glimpse of his pink gardening pants....
With round eyes and sharp lashes to die for, this Kabuki actor is always the talk of the town! Stick with him and he’ll show you all around his lovely home prefecture of Ishikawa! Now do the Kabukki pose and say “Iiyo Komatsu!”
-出身地 Birthplace: Komatsu City
- 誕生日 Birthday: Febuary 10, 2010
- 年齢 Age: Well...
- 好きな食べ物：Vegetables from Komatsu
-助言 Kabukki's tip: Don't wash your orange hakama with your white obi -__-
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.
SHIMAE-CHAN, FROM HOKKAIDO
Shimae-chan (シマエちゃん) is a Shima Enaga (シマエナガ), a long-tailed tit from Hokkaido. Long-tailed tits are a popular winter bird in Hokkaido, although they can be very hard to spot. Another name for this kind of bird is "Snow Fairy" (雪の妖精).
Fluffy like cotton and shaped like a kagami mochi, Shimae-chan is energetic, curious, and extremely photogenic --much like the birds of her namesake! Shimae-chan is never without her stylish hat, a spring butterfly which she picked up in Tokyo. In the winter, Shimae can often be found darting around the snow fields while sightseeing in her homeland of Hokkaido. She loves to show people around!
-Favorite foods: Insects and peanuts
-Favorite activity: Playing in the snow
-Favorite song: Birdsongs
-Looks forward to: Wintering in Hokkaido, Enjoying Hatsumode each year
-Avoids: Walking, Spending too much time in the sun without UV protection
NEJIRI HONNYO, FROM KURIHARA CITY
Born in Kurihara City's Ricefield #1, this sentient pile of rice on a pole is the official mascot of his hometown! An expert in all things harvest themed, and well traveled throughout the prefecture of Miyagi, Nejiri Honnyo very much enjoys spending time in the sunlight. He can often be found wandering the streets of Kurihara City, visiting local shops and lending a helping hand on the many farms and fields that surround the city. If you ever run in to him, you should challenge him to a game of rock, paper, scissors. It is his favorite game, and beating him at it is said to bring good luck!
AMABIE, OF THE SEA
According to Edo period legend Amabie is a yokai that appeared off the coast of Higo province in Kumamoto prefecture. When the villagers went out to meet her she told them that there would be good harvest for 6 years, and if a sickness should break out, they should draw a picture of her and show it to the affected and they would be cured. Almost 300 years later and Amabie is exploding all over the internet! On Twitter, Instagram and more people are sharing their Amabie art as protection from sickness. We’re so happy to share this new/old tradition with you!