While most of us are fans of the mascots for our favorite sports teams, Japan is what many would consider mascot-obsessed. There are mascots for cities, companies, products, events and even government embassies! Literally everybody who’s anybody has a mascot.
Mascots in Japan are designed to be cute and likable, and most characters are a combination of products, animals or foods a region is famous for. While mascots may seem whimsical and fun (and they are!), they’re also big business and cultural representatives of the regions they come from. For instance, in 2012 alone, mascots were estimated to have generated almost $16 billion in Japan.
Two of the most popular mascots in Japan are Kumamon and Funassyi. Kumamon is a (very cute) black bear created by the Kumamoto Prefectural Government, and Funassyi is a widely adored “pear fairy” from Chiba Prefecture, an area famous for Funabashi pears. Both mascots are yuru chara, or, mascots representing a place, event or company, and part of the characters’ success is due to the fact that in exchange for publicity, creators don’t charge copyright fees for use of mascot images.
When you visit Japan, don’t be surprised to see cartoon characters and mascots just about everywhere you go. Mascots are popular event attendees, and while most are cute, there are other (slightly disturbing) mascots.
So as you can see, Japan is mascot-obsessed. But with the massive revenues and publicity these characters generate, it’s not hard to see why.
For more posts about weird Japanese stuff, check out Here’s Why Japan Loves Crazy Ice Cream Flavors