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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
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
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).
4. Katsuo Ningen: The Bonito Man from 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!