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Domo-kun, The Furry Brown Icon

Updated on April 24, 2014

Domo-kun, a character affectionately known around the world as the furry brown opened-mouth monster with sharp teeth, has grown from a simple character on a Japanese satellite channel into an icon in the Japanese car import industry. Domo-kun appears as car accessories and is widely loved by many in the import car world. Domo-kun’s popularity amongst car fans will only continue to grow and influence the industry. Domo-kun has definitely made his mark in the JDM world.

What is Domo-kun?

If you’ve seen that furry little brown creature that always looks hungry, yet fiercely adorable, then you know Domo-kun. His constantly opened saw-toothed mouth is strangely cute and uniquely endearing. You can see him lovably hugged in the arms of children as well as fully grown adults. He is affectionately nicknamed “Domo” and very important in the car culture world, often appearing as a window decal, keychain or even a furry 12 inch plush perching atop the backseat waving to passersby. Ever since Domo was introduced to the world, he has been a big part of the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) culture and has and been a big deal in the import car world.

Where did Domo-kun originate from?

In December 1998, Domo first appeared in stop-motion sketches and actually looked quite rudimentary. Domo was first introduced on a Japanese satellite broadcasting station NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) and has completely ballooned in popularity ever since. He actually didn’t have a name until the second episode, where the announcer affectionately greeted, “Domo, konnichiwa” which is translated as “Well, hello there!” Thus, the name and face became connected together. Domo-kun loves meat and potato stew, yet absolutely hates apples. He also passes gas when he is upset. He can only communicate with low pitched sounds but everyone on his show can still understand him the same. Since 1998, Domo-kun has grown into a pop culture item and known virtually around the world. His role in the world of car culture has turned into somewhat of an icon that car lovers appreciate and recognize.

How has Domo-kun grown?

In the present time, Domo is more than a character in a stop-motion sketch. Not only are there expansions to his story, writers have also created little nuances to make Domo unique and that has definitely resonated with fans. Domo has been introduced in the USA in an original English language manga series. The series imitates the original Japanese stop-motion in that the English version is a bunch of short stories instead of one long one to pay tribute to the original series. The goal was to make reading one story from the manga similar to watching one episode of the show.

Domo first exploded on the internet as a meme, “God kills a kitten” and has boomed into fame. Japanese import car enthusiasts noticed this brown monster and immediately turned him into an icon. You can see Domo decals on cars, Domo shaped car exhausts, Domo stuffed animals, Domo key chains and more. These accessories are proudly decked out for everyone on the road to see. Avid Domo fans even completely cover their car with anything and everything Domo related they can get their hands on. He has completely evolved from a simple stop-motion character into a car culture icon complete with a large fan base and a multitude of accessories. You can practically buy anything Domo related on the market nowadays.

How is Domo-kun important in the car culture world?

It was fairly easy to make Domo a part of the import culture because he is a famous Japanese character that isn’t linked to any overseas culture. While Domo isn’t exactly the mascot in the Japanese Domestic Market culture, there are more than enough fans to keep him in the spotlight, maintaining Domo’s popularity and exposing this character to be loved by many.

People even put Domo accessories next to their LED lights to give Domo that glow which also symbolizes how important Domo is to car culture. The fact that Domo has quickly risen in ranks to be a must-have accessory for some, much like other must-have car upgrades like LED lights and body kits only means that Domo would still be popular for a long time to come.

Will Domo-kun have an impact on the future of car culture?

Domo is symbolic of car culture and the internet. Regardless if he maintains his popularity or slowly fades as time goes on, Domo has already made his mark on Japanese car culture. However, the fact that many fans refuse to let Domo die down in popularity is very telling that the little brown monster is here to stay.


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