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Why Is Japan Obsessed With Bizarre Mascots?

Besides anime and cherry blossoms, Japan is also known for having a lot of mascots. From a human jacuzzi faucet, to a boxing rabbit, to a fruit-bear hybrid, Japan knows no bounds when it comes to creating mascots from promoting companies or products. Every brand, prefecture, and local government has a mascot to represent them. Japanese mascots are made to blend in as a part of everyday life, as sbnation details: 

There’s Melon Kuma, a terrifying, tourism-promoting fruit-bear hybrid, and Colon-chan, a character with hot pink, intestine-shaped hair, who encourages colonoscopies.
This is the heart of “yuru-chara,” the championing of mascots as part of everyday life. Japanese artist Jun Miura is widely credited with coining the term in 2009, outlining three fundamental components of a yuru-chara mascot:
It must convey a strong message of love for one’s hometown.
Its movements should be unique and unstable or awkward.
It should be unsophisticated or laid-back and lovable.
It’s a recipe that works for a Japanese audience, a mixture of regional loyalty and self-deprecation in a place where celebration of the absurd flourishes. Though reverence for non-human characters can be traced back to the cultural impact of Kami, the spirits which form the foundation of the polytheistic Shinto religion, the recent proliferation of yuru-chara began in 2007 with Hikonyan, a samurai cat created by the Hikone city government to mark the 400th anniversary of Hikone Castle. The mascot wasn’t just popular — it was a phenomenon. People flocked to see Hikonyan, generating more than $200 million in tourism spending. Other cities took note, hoping to replicate Hikone’s success with mascots of their own. Brands and businesses followed suit.

image via sbnation


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