16 February 2013

'Yuru-Kyara' ★ Town Revitalization with Animal Suite Mascots

Kuma-mon (A black bear mascot from Kumamoto Prefecture; the picture from Kuma-mon official site: http://kumamon-official.jp, Japanese only)

On the day after the Valentine's Day, an article caught my eyes; "'Hikonyan' received the record high 228 chocolate gifts on the Valentine's Day across the country. One was even from Germany. 'Hikonyan' said he would eat all chocolate and he is planning to send the thanks gifts in return on the White Day." in the major national wire news and newspaper. 

Who is 'Hikonyan' and why he is so hot?

The big wave of the animal suite mascots has been nationwide and it is gaining the popularity throughout the country. 

These giant mascots are called 'yuru-kyara' (a registered trademark), literally means, 'yuru' is a shorten word of 'yurui', meaning 'loose' and 'soft', and 'kyara' comes from an English word 'character'. 

The hot guy on the Valentine's Day in the article was one of those 'yuru-kyara' mascots, 'Hikonyan' as below.
Hiko-nyan (from Hikone City in Shiga Prefecture; a white cat wearing samurai helmet with yellow horns; http://hikone-hikonyan.jp)

Those mascots are created by local governments and regional business groups as for PR tools to attract the tourists and to boost the local economy. Most of the mascots are characterised with local attractions such as castles and landscape and the images of local specialities. The mascots even have their own accounts on Facebook, Twitter, blogs with many followers and they often appear in media coverage.

'Yuru-kyara' mascots are often cute, cuddly, but unsophisticated. They are friendly, approachable and people seek healing from a stressed-out society.

There are hundreds of 'yuru-kyara' mascots and here are some:
Fukka-chan (from Fukaya City in Saitama Prefecture; the character is associated with a local speciality, 'naga negi' or long leek. http://www.fukkachan.com)

Takino-michi Yuzuru (from Minoh City in Osaka Prefecture; with an image of local speciality, citrus fruits and the name 'taki' - waterfall - came from the local tourist attraction; wearing samurai costume with a sword on the belt; http://www.yuzuyuzu.jp)

The annual yuru-kyara Grand Prix has been held since 2007 and 'Bari-san', the chicken from Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture won the 2012 Grand Prix. 'Yuru kyara' mascots show up in many places and we even encountered in Tokyo the other day.
'Yuru kyara' turned from a merely artless design character to the proud local brand.
They dance, they sing and ... kids love them!


1 comment:

  1. Kuma-mon and Fukka-chan are some of the cutest ones here ^^