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Mascots of Japan

Updated on September 6, 2014

Cute Ambassadors

Everything is kawaii is Japan. Cuteness gets adored in Japan more than any other countries. Even mascots are created to be attractive and cute.. and what?! They have mascots for all the prefectures? Sugoi! (Awesome!)

Mascots that we will be finding out:

1. Mascots representing Japan's prefectures

2. Mascots representing Japanese brands

(Cuteness overloaded, please prepare your heart.)

Domo-kun

Mascot of Japan's NHK television station

Domo-kun first appeared in a short, stop-motion film on 1998 to mark the 10th anniversary of NHK's satellite broadcasting. The name Domo was attained during the second episode of the show, where a TV announcer said Domo, konnichiwa, which is a greeting that can be translated to Well, hello! But, it can also be interpreted as Hello, Domo. And that's the story behind this interesting name Domo.

Tokyopop then published Domo: The Manga, an original English-language manga series, in the United States and Canada. Domo became well known outside of Japan through a mock public service announcement that circulated on the Internet.

There are even video games on PSP on Domo-kun!

Kumamon

Mascot of Bullet Train Line, Kumamoto Prefecture

Kumamon was created in 2010 as a mascot for a bullet train line in the city of Kumamoto. Kuma in Kumamon means bear in Japanese.

He's a phenomenon in Japan, appearing at all sorts of public events, ranging from festivals to TV appearances to meet-and-greets to promote Kumamoto. Ironically, Kumamon became bigger than Kumamoto. City mascots are usually meant to promote tourism to its city of origin, but the bear's popularity has completely eclipsed the city he was meant to represent!!

(Here's a bit of info on Kumamoto. The prefecture has beautiful landscapes and is famous for Kumamoto Castle.)

Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto Prefecture

And, now let's see the incredibly cute bear that overpowered himself over the city he was meant to promote for... Let's welcome, KUMAMON!

Riding on the wave of his popularity, Kumamon's image was everywhere. His smiling face was on the packaging for the region's rice or local snacks. Hisao Wakasugi, manager of the Kumamon promotional team, said the prefecture received 400 applications a month to put the bear's image on various Kumamoto products after his victory last year.

Barii-san

Official Mascot of Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture

Barii-san is the kind of simple mascot that people like, complete with an adorably stupid kind of 'huggability'. He's a portly bird of some sort, his accessories represent local Imabari product. The haramaki stomach band is made from towel material, as towels are a major Imabari product, and the ship tucked into his haramaki represents the town's shipbuilding industry.

Gibo-chan

Mascot of Edo-Tokyo Museum in Sumida City, Tokyo

Gibo-chan is a recent entry into the character mascot arena. He is an ornate wooden post... but at any rate, he's quite popular in Tokyo, especially among the kids.

Hikonyan

Official Mascot of Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture

Hikonyan was created to celebrate the Hikone Castle's 400th anniversary. His name is a mix of the word Hikone for the city and nyan for the sound of a cat. It is a white cat wearing a samurai helmet with horns. He weilds a sword and wears a green collar around his neck to which a bell is attached. Hikonyan has enjoyed massive popularity inside and out of Hikone and his merchandise can be found almost everywhere. You can buy everything from Hikonyan stuffed animals to Hikonyan socks. He even has his own song!

Hikonyan in front of Hikone Castle

Meisui-kun

Mascot for Local Election

Voting kicked off in local elections across Japan with Meisui-kun encouraging people to go out and vote. The lines on his head represent the slots in the ballot box. His wings help him to fly forward towards a fair election. Quite a meaningful creation.. Do you agree?

Sarasa-chan

Mascot of Makino Highland in Takashima City, Shiga Prefecture

Makino Highland is a ski resort, golf course and a onsen. Their mascot Sarasa-chan takes its name and look from Enkianthus a shrub with bell shaped pink tinged flowers that are found on Akasaka mountain.

Ranking of the most popular mascots in 2012

1st

Bari-san (Imabari, Ehime Prefecture)

2nd

Choruru (Yamaguchi Prefecture)

3rd

Gunma-chan (Gunma Prefecture)

4th

Sanomaru (Sano, Tochigi Prefecture)

5th

Fukka-chan (Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture)

6th

Shimaneko (Shimane Prefecture)

7th

Daimyo Shusse Ieyasu-kun (Shizuoka Prefecture)

8th

Yanana (Gifu Prefecture)

9th

Ayu-koro-chan (Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture)

10th

Takinomichi Yuzuru (Mino, Osaka Prefecture)

Which is your favorite mascot?

Of the 10 mascots in the ranking above, do you think these mascots deserve their rank?

Which is your favorite of these TOP 10 mascots?

See results

World's only Mascot School, in Japan

At Choko Group Mascot School, students strives to be good mascots. It is a real institution that helps to build character, not treated as a child's play.

"When I see places where someone's hand is coming out between the costume's hands, or they take off their mask in front of people, or show their skin under the mask, it's very disappointing. I just want to tell them that it's not how you do it. I want to show the world how to fully become the character and explain that's how to make children happy."

--Choko Oohira, Founder of Choko Group Mascot School

Students in the mascot school picks up different dances, walking styles and tips on attracting audience. A 2 hour class will cost 2,200 yen or 26 U.S. dollars. It's worth the investment as mascots are booming in Japan nowadays.

Mass gathering of the mascots

Over the weekend at Nagasaki Prefecture, 141 brave souls dressed up as mascots from 25 prefectures across Japan and made history. These cute mascots gathered together to break all world records and to become the largest group of mascots to dance the same dance together. How incredible and impressive would it be to witness this live!

Over the weekend at Nagasaki Prefecture, 141 brave souls dressed up as mascots from 25 prefectures across Japan and made history. These cute mascots gathered to

© 2013 Max Wong

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    • profile image

      Rob 

      3 years ago

      KUMAMON does NOT represent any "bullet train". He represents Kymamon. You must immediately fix this massive error.

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