As you may know, there is something of a “cuteness culture” in Japan. This extends to the government level in the form of city/prefecture/etc. mascots.
The obnoxiously cute bird up top is one of the many ridiculously adorable mascots, called yurukyara.
Bary-san, aforementioned bird, grabbed first place in the 2012 Yurukyara Grand Prix. I can’t say I disagree with this decision — he is pretty darn cute.
While I haven’t had the luck to meet Bary-san (yet!), I have had the opportunity to meet a few others, so read more to meet some of the characters!
The creature above is called Fukka-chan and is the mascot of the Saitama Prefecture city Fukaya. I met him (her?!) at a super rainy summer festival. As you can see, Fukka-chan has spring onions (called negi), the famous vegetable produced in Fukaya, on his head.
Fukka-chan placed fifth in the 2012 Yurukyara Grand Prix. It’s my humble opinion that he (we’re going with “he”) should have placed higher. Who can say no to those onions?!
The next character up is Azuchan, the mascot of the Azumabashi area near the newly finished Tokyo Sky Tree.
I was riding my bicycle to the Sky Tree when I passed her (definitely “her”). Not wanting to give up the chance to get a photo of one of the many legendary, and, well, not-so-legendary yurukyara, I asked her “handler” if I could take one. Azuchan seemed more than happy to strike a pose, Azuchan must have had places to go, because her handler was in a rush. The life of a yurukyara is busy!
The last character I met recently was “Otan”, the mascot of the city of Ota. He/she has several round symbols on his/her head, symbolizing the combination of several smaller cities to create the city of Ota.
Sadly, as cute as Otan is, as far as I know, he/she hasn’t won any awards. Here’s to getting first in 2013!
Many yurukyara, such as Kumamon, have even visited other countries, in order to bring in more tourists and spread the word about their areas.
Have you heard about any other yurukyara?
Who do you think is the cutest?
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