May 24, 2008

Mascots In Japan

We wanted to do a short entry on Japanese Mascots, which seem to be quite the cultural phenomenon over here. (It probably has something to do with the cultural emphasis on cuteness (kawaii) in Japan, combined with the great popularity of anime and manga.) These mascots can be either of the cartoon or cuddly variety. And they are not just for sports teams. Most prefectures and corporations have mascots. Every event, festival, and program has a mascot. Police and fire departments have mascots. Even Mozilla, maker of Firefox (our browser of choice), has launched a Japanese mascot. In short, they are ubiquitous.

Here are some of our favorite examples of mascots that we have encountered.

This is Atom Boy (also known as Astro Boy), one of the Mascots for the Yakult Swallows baseball team:

These guys (a penguin and a platypus?) are the mascots for the ICOCA card, which is the train pass we use around here.

This guy is the mascot for PiTaPa, another local train card:

These guys are the mascots for our local movie theater, Movix. (To us they seem very reminiscent of the Backyardigans):

Even the Japanese military has a mascot. (It is actually quite controversial.) Another strange example is the new mascot of Nara, an ancient city we have previously blogged about. It is meant to evoke the two things that Nara is most famous for - the Giant Buddha and free-roaming deer. But, we're not so sure about whether a Buddha-looking guy with antlers was quite the right concept to go with.

For more on this fun little topic, we leave you with this list of the top thirty cutest Japanese corporate mascots and with this great site completely devoted to describing and displaying the many Japanese mascots.

1 comment:

jmgesq said...

Can I be a mascot? Sadly, I doubt if I'm kawaii enough!