www.flickr.com; photo by Conveyor belt sushi
Right now, the most popular yurukyara is arguably Kumamon, the yurukyara from Kumamoto.
What is yurukyara?
The yurukyara from Shimane, Shimanekko.
Yurukyara are mascot characters that are used as PR for areas, organizations, or businesses and are presented at events, campaigns, advertisements, and other similar occasions.
According to yurukyara advocate Miura Jun, for a mascot to be considered a yurukyara it must adhere to these three conditions.
1. Its strong message must be overflowing with love for its hometown.
2. Its movements have to be unstable and unique.
3. It must be lovable.
In other words, they’re mascots who do PR for areas in Japan.
They participate in events and sell goods so the world of yurukyara is rather busy!
Which one do you like? Yurukyara line-up!
New yurukyara are born every day around Japan.
Listing them all would be difficult so here are a few that are particularly famous or interesting.
www.flickr.com; photo by Norio.NAKAYAMA
The yurukyara from Kumamoto, Kumamon, has a level of popularity and familiarity that surpasses all others.
If you’re wondering why he’s a bear, it’s because the first character of Kumamoto, 熊, means bear.
In collaboration with the area of Kumamoto, Kumamon holds events all around the country.
Shusse Daimyou Ieyasu-kun (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka)
This Ieyasu-kun was designed with the motif of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the ruler of the Edo shogunate in the Edo period.
Because Hamamatsu is where the Yamaha company is headquartered, Ieyasu-kun’s hakama is designed like a piano keyboard.
Funasshi (Funabashi, Chiba)
A yurukyara made by people from Funabashi that isn’t actually officially recognized by the city. This makes it extremely rare among yurukyara.
Even though it’s not officially recognized, it does a lot of TV appearances and appears at events so it is extremely well-known around the country.
Narita, the location of Narita Airport, has the yurukyara “Unari-kun,” who has an airplane motif.
Okazaemon (Okazaki, Aichi)
photozou.jp; photo by kyu3
Among all the adorable yurukyara, there is Okazaemon, a yurukyara that chose a rather surreal path instead.
It’s a simple mascot where the characters for Okazaki were used to make its face and outfit.
Hikonyan (Hikone, Shiga)
photozou.jp; photo by aes256
Hikonyan is an overwhelmingly leading figure in the world of yurukyara.
The cats that are related to Hikone Castle combined with the uniform of the military commanders that were lacquered in this region create this form.
Yurukyara even release photobooks.
Because yurukyara are used for PR purposes, they’re used on such a variation of souvenir goods that you’ll be shocked at what they’re on.
Do they get idol-like treatment? Photobooks!
photozou.jp; photo by 上電元気なう！
According to a press conference held by the Gunma prefectural office, the mascot and PR head of Gunma prefecture, Gunma-chan, is releasing his first photobook “A Walk with Gunma-chan” nationwide on the 12th.
It was photographed by Hideki Kouno, a photographer renowned for his work on female idol photobooks. In cooperation with the prefecture, they chose 83 photos from 5500 from all around the prefecture. You can watch him lively experience the Tomioka Silk Mill and the Morin Temple from the folk tale in Tatebayashi as well as the waters of the Kusatsu Onsen and even him becoming the station master of the Joushin Dentetsu Joushin Line for a day. It’s dedicated to the countless numbers of people fom Gunma that he’s met.