I’ve recently spotted a number of posters with eight different kigurumi in support of Japan and Tohoku. From left to right we have Ikubee from Aomori, Sento-kun from Nara, Guripuu from Kagoshima, Hachimaru from Nagoya, Nyanyo from Ehime and finally Yubarifusai from Hokkaido.
Archive for the ‘animals’ category
Wakayama was once known as the Kishu Domain before the Edo period which explains the name of the Wakayama police mascot. There’s also a type of dog from Wakayma called the Kishu-ken. This breed was originally used to hunt boar and deer as they were often very quiet and would stalk prey silently preferring not to bark. Kishu-kun was born on July 1, 1994 and proved an extremely successful character in Wakayama where he appears on mobile phone straps, t-shirts, stuffed toys and much more. There’s also a four meter tall Idle Idol on the side of the road in Arida where my wife’s family is from. To find out about Japans other 48 police mascots head on over to Idle Idol. Top photo via.
Meet Huanhuan one of the five mascots that were created for the Beijing olympics in 2008 and the first non-Japanese fursuit on the blog. The Fuwa as they are known match the colours of the Olympic Rings and carry a message of friendship and peace. I saw a version of Huanhuan at the olympic park when I recently visited Beijing. Huanhuan represents the olympic flame while the others embody the characteristics of popular animals in China, the fish, panda, Tibetan antelope and swallow.
According to the official site “When you put their names together — Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni — they say “Welcome to Beijing,” offering a warm invitation that reflects the mission of Fuwa as young ambassadors for the Olympic Games.”
The site also describes Huanhuan in more detail;
In the intimate circle of Fuwa, Huanhuan is the big brother. He is a child of fire, symbolizing the Olympic Flame and the passion of sport — and passion is the blessing he bestows. Huanhuan stands in the center of Fuwa as the core embodiment of the Olympic spirit. And while he inspires all with the passion to run faster, jump higher and be stronger, he is also open and inviting. Wherever the light of Huanhuan shines, the inviting warmth of Beijing 2008 — and the wishful blessings of the Chinese people — can be felt. The fiery designs of his head ornament are drawn from the famed Dunhuang murals — with just a touch of China’s traditional lucky designs. Huanhuan is outgoing and enthusiastic. He excels at all the ball games and represents the red Olympic ring.
At many of the ski resorts in Japan you’ll find people dressed in Kigurumi but you might also be lucky enough to see the official ski resort mascot that some of the resorts have. Here are six from various places around Japan. If you know of any more let me know in the comments.
To start with heres Nozawa Onsen’s Nasuki-kun. Nozawa Onsen a small town in Nagano is famous for its skiing, onsen and Nozawana. The last is its speciality vegetable which provides the design inspiration for their character. Nozawana is a leaf vegetable which is often pickled. Nozawaonsen hosted the biathlon for the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Photo via Mew Mew factory.
On Hunter Mountain Shiobara in Tochigi you might see half a boiled egg whizzing down the slopes on skis, a snowboard or an inflatable ring. Hantama-kun the mascot for the ski resort came to life when someone cut a boiled egg in half and drew eyes with sauce. His name comes from Hunter Mountain but it also combines the words han meaning “half” and tamago meaning “egg.” Hantama-kun often has a salt shaker in his hand and sprinkles salt while shaking his yolk.
Kunio is the mascot for Kunizakai Kougen snow park, a resort in Takashima, Shiga. Kunio apparently started working in a restaurant but was promoted to become the mascot for the resort. He’s very good at skiing and is improving his snowboarding skills every day. He also has a girlfriend. Photo via Kunizakai Kougen snow park’s official site.
Nigata honoured the man who is said to have introduced skiing to Japan by creating a kigurumi based on his image. Theodor von Lerch Edler was Born in 1869 in what is now Slovakia and was a Major General of the Austrian Habsburg Army and a skiing pioneer. He came to Japan as an exchange officer with the Imperial Japanese Army 100 years ago but left as an ambassador to winter leisure sports. There are a number of monuments dedicated to the man, a museum and now finally a mascot. Find out more about the man here.
Happy Hako-chan is the mascot for Hakoteyama in Shiga. The Square box character comes from the Hako in Hakote which means box. He likes sweet food and his favourite word is happy. Photo via the Yuru-chara organisation
Makino Highland is a ski resort, onsen, golf course and onsen. Their mascot Sarasa-chan takes her name and look from Sarasadoudan Tsutsuji or Enkianthus a shrub with bell shaped pink tinged flowers that are found on Akasaka mountain. She’s currently on a diet and says her rival is Hikonyan. Photo via Yuru-chara organisation
Voting kicked off in local elections across Japan with Meisui-kun encouraging people to go out and vote. Oh his chest is either his name Meisui (as shown above) or the the word senkyo which means election (below). The lines on his head represent the slots in the ballot box. He has wings on his back to help him fly forward and realise a fair election.
The season for cherry blossom viewing or hanami has finally hit Tokyo and although some parks have been reluctant to encourage the festivities people were out in full force at Yoyogi park which I visited last weekend. I met Rilakkuma (relaxed bear) doing a great job of collecting money for the survivors of the tsunami and earthquake. There were a number of kigurumin too including Stitch, a squirrel, Eeyore and Tigger. It was a little bit cold on Sunday so I’m sure the kigurumi kept them warm.
It’s been a shocking few days experiencing my first major earthquake and watching the harrowing news from the more affected parts of Japan. It seems slightly inappropriate to post about mascots with all the sad news but I wanted to mention one relevant character which will hopefully give people some encouragement. Meet Haba-tan mascot for Hyogo. In January 1995 an earthquake struck Hyogo prefecture resulting in the loss of life of more than 6,000 people. Although it was not as strong as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake which measured 9.0 the Great Hanshin Earthquake (6.8) caused expressways to topple over, buildings crumbled and fires raged through the city. Haba-tan is a phoenix and represents the city’s re-birth. My thoughts are with the people in the affected areas in North Japan. Like Hyogo I hope the people and cities can recover from this huge disaster and when the towns are re-built and the people return maybe they’ll create a mascot to inspire the people and encourage tourism. I hope to see them soon. Photos via here and here.
Tama zoo recently held a drill to simulate what would happen if a Siberian Tiger escaped. The safest and of course cutest way to do this is get a smiling fur-suit costume and a theatrically starved zookeper volunteer. Ueno and Tama zoo have held similar drills in the past with different animals including a zebra, monkey, lion, rhino and bear. The drills give zoo staff the experience in dealing with first aid, protecting visitors and working with the emergency services. They almost always include a melodramatic stun dart scene too. Pink tentacle has many of the past drills collected together.
Just got back from watching the Tokyo Marathon. I mainly went to watch Joseph Tame do his amazing run with his funny irun contraption but also saw some fantastic costumes. Lots of pandas I guess because Ueno zoo has just received two new ones from China. Also many Gachapins and Pickachus. Pink Tentacle has many more photos from the day including an awesome Alien Baltan and a persevering Jesus.
Umatase-kun is the mascot for Tokyo City Keiba a horse racing track in Shinagawa, Tokyo. I went there last year and spotted their mascot dressed up in a strange pink super hero like outfit. Many other race tracks have horse mascots too, some of the most famous are shown below (top left clockwise). Turfy, Katsumaru-kun, Hokuto-kun and Ricky.