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InternationalMascot crazy Japan

May 1, 2016

Japan Mascot

Kumamon Square








Mascots are big business in Japan. They advertise and sell products for government and business. They are everywhere, and the Japanese people are crazy for them. However, the government recently asked, “Do we need so many mascots?”

Mascots, or Yuru-kyara in Japanese, are imaginary characters. They are used to represent a common identity, especially for cities. In fact, 1,000 cities in Japan have their own mascots. For example, Sanomaru represents the city of Sano, the home of Sano ramen. This city’s popular mascot is a white dog with a ramen bowl for a hat and ramen noodles for hair.

One of the most famous mascots in Japan is Kumamon, a mischievous, curious, red-cheeked bear. He represents Kumamoto prefecture. Since winning a popularity contest in 2011, his image is on all types of products. And the sale of this merchandise has brought $1 billion and a lot of tourists to the prefecture. He has 427,000 Twitter followers.

However, not all mascots are as popular or profitable as Kumamon. They cost a lot to design, make and maintain. For example, a mascot suit can cost $4,000 to $6,500. Keeping the suit clean and storing it can also be pricey. Therefore, Japan’s Finance Ministry is asking public agencies to reconsider creating more mascots.

So the city of Osaka is among the first to respond. 92 little-known mascots are making way for one well-designed mascot to represent Osaka. And, of course, the people of Osaka are hoping for a hit mascot like Kumamon to bring them money and fame!

Developed by Azusa Norimatsu

Photographer: othree / Flickr

Published May 2016

Comments (1)


  1. Rachel Kim says:

    Why are Japanese people so crazy about mascots?

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