Diving Deep with 3 of Japan's Aquatic 'Yuru-chara' Mascots

Hey there, mascot friend! Today we're diving deep into the fascinating world of aquatic-themed Japanese yuru-chara (mascots). Guiding us today is Tarutaru, the trusty curator of our upcoming 'Tarutaru Tumbles' Mix, who also just so happens to be something of an aquatic yuru-chara himself, as well as the celebrated official mascot of Tarumizu City.


The mascot Tarutaru of Tarumizu City gazes on in horror as his bucket breaks open, spilling his light-blue slime across the bright clear waters of a beach in Amami Oshima island. Japanese words float above him, translating to "No way!"

Tarutaru being aquatic.

In case you didn't already know, Tarutaru is a slime-like mascot in a barrel that calls himself a water fairy. He'll be introducing us to three of his aquatic yuru-chara friends. Grab your life jackets and get ready for a splash of fun!


1. Shinjo-kun: The Charming Otter from Susaki City

The mascot Shinjo-kun stands up close to the camera, leaning against a rock. For an otter wearing an earthen-wear bowl, he's pretty darn cool.

Shinjo-kun is so cool when he wears a suit and tie and poses with flowers

A delightfully quirky otter from Susaki City, Kochi Prefecture, Shinjo-kun is easily recognizable by his bowl-shaped hat (it's actually an onigawara – a traditional Japanese roof tile) and his shy smile. Shinjo-kun represents the city's love for the local river otters.

Shinjo-kun was designed back in 2008 and rapidly swam into the hearts of locals and tourists alike. He can often be found gracing various city events and promotions. If you're lucky enough to spot Shinjo-kun while visiting Susaki City, remember to say "hi" for Tarutaru!


2. Chitan: The Crazy Otter from Susaki City

The mascot Chitan is crazy and enjoys drinking gasoline sometimes.


Chitan sometimes drinks gasoline


Interestingly, there's another unofficial character that you might have heard of from Susaki City. It's Chitan! 

Chitan, the hyperactive otter, is an unofficial mascot of Susaki city and not officially recognized by the city or the association that promotes such mascots in Japan. However, it's worth noting that Chitan gained internet fame with its slapstick humor-filled videos, despite the city deciding to distance itself from Chitan due to the mascot's rather chaotic and sometimes dangerous antics.

This unofficial mascot was designed to resemble Shinjo-kun! Tarutaru doesn't know Chitan all that well, but he's heard that they're a good sport (also, Tarutaru is kind of scared of them).

3. Unari-kun: The Plane-transforming Eel from Narita City

Brace yourself, Unari-kun isn't your average mascot. He's a blue eel. A plane-transforming blue eel. Yes, you read that right. Unari-kun hails from Narita City, Chiba Prefecture, a city famous for two things: Narita Airport and unagi (eel).


The mascot Unarikun from Narita City is a half-eel/half-plane hybrid. With a smiling blue head and an airplane body, he walks around the streets of Narita City and waves at passersby.
Unari-kun waves while walking in a parade
Unari-kun perfectly embodies the city's identity, combining an eel body with airplane elements. Created in 1997, Unari-kun has been flying high, charming locals, and attracting visitors to Narita City. If you happen to fly into Narita Airport, keep your eyes peeled for this quirky character!

4. Katsuo Ningen: The Bonito Man from Kochi City

 The mascot Katsuo Ningen stands looking down on the beautiful vista of his city in springtime. Sakura (cherry blossoms) are in magnificent pink bloom around him.
Katsuo Ningen stares at Kochi City

    Who is Katsuo Ningen? Wow that's a great question... where do we even start... he's a mascot hailing from Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture, and his name directly translates to "Bonito Human." He embodies the city's deep connection with bonito fish, a local culinary staple. Also, he used to be a whole fish until the back of his head got severed, so now he walks around with his meat and bones exposed.

    Introduced in 2011, Katsuo Ningen plays a crucial role in promoting Kochi's delightful bonito dishes, particularly katsuo tataki (lightly seared bonito). Katsuo Ningen's design is a charming fusion of human and fish elements, offering a visual homage to the city's fishing culture. Doesn't he look tasty?

    If you ever visit Kochi City, keep an eye out for Katsuo Ningen at local events and festivals! Meeting this bonito-human mascot might just be the cherry (or should we say, the fish?) on top of your Kochi City adventure!


    That's it for Tarutaru's list of aquatic mascot friends~! Each character here demonstrates the richness of Japan's yuru-chara culture and their respective regional identities. In your future visits to Japan, please consider adding these mascot-filled hometowns to your travel list. There's a whole ocean of yuru-chara love awaiting you!