WHAT ARE MASCOTS

マスコットって何?

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! 

 

Unofficial mascots from Oita Prefecture gather to celebrate the changing of the seasons, from Summer to Autumn. From left to right: Amabie, Tengu, Nurikabe, and the Chouchin Obake. (A collection of unofficial mascots from Oita Prefecture, gathering at an ancient temple to celebrate the changing of the seasons)

 

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. Especially around their hometown! If you ever see a mascot character out and about, we strongly encourage you to interact with them --they will always be 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.

 

The mascot Fukkachan, the official mascot of Fukayacity in Saitama Prefecture, petting a cute stone dog that is guarding the Wadokuroya Mine shrine.

(The mascot Fukkachan from Saitama Prefecture's Fukaya City, reaches up to pet a guardian statue at a shrine)