Ambassadors of Cute
Date: Sunday 6th July 2014 [4:43] | Posted By: Lucy
What are these strange cute mascots, who are they, and what do they do?
In Japan there is a serious emphasis on the commodity of cute. The Kawaii industry is big money, with Hello Kitty alone being valued at $5 Billion. You will find cute/kawaii characters & mascots (yuru-kyara) for everything I am sure you are familiar with Domo-kun the mascot for NHK. You will find them everywhere from your toiletries to even having mascots for the many of the prefectures (regions/territories) a particular favourite yuru-kyara of mine is Barii-san official mascot of Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture. Barii-san is the kind of chubby chick, I guess, with a crown and utility belt, I just want to give him a hug! And I would probably get a chance to if I visited any of the attractions in the Ehime Prefecture he represents.
So why do these mascots exist and what do they do? All good yuru-kyara require a background story, have birthdays, Facebook, Twitter, merchandise and so on and are used too boost public awareness and tourism for the many prefectures of Japan. It is an extremely competitive and lucrative business with hundreds of these mascots trying to win over the hearts of the public.
One of the most popular yuru-kyara at the moment is Kumamon, a black bear cub. Who 'has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter. He is all the more striking given the ferocious competition among mascots in just two years, Kumamon has generated ¥123 billion in economic benefits for his region, including tourism and product sales, and more than ¥9 billion worth of publicity, according to a recent Bank of Japan study."' 'This month a Tokyo jeweller unveiled a gold figurine of the bear worth 100m yen (£580,000)!' Some officials believe the initial purpose of these mascots has been lost "Kumamon's true role is to be a medium for boosting Kumamoto's brand image," he said. "What we're trying to sell is not Kumamon, but Kumamoto prefecture."
However despite Kumamon's unprecedented popularity (he won the Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix 2011) after two weeks of voting the winner of Japan's Character Prize 2014 was Funassyi representing Funabashi City in Chiba Prefecture An adorable yellow dancing Japanese Pear, who can also be seen to be fond of jumping around & stage diving!
Imagine if we had these in England, would be absolutely amazing, a little puppy dog for Essex, a cute little royal looking cat for London, a fluffy sea lion for Cornwall, the cuter the better. There are so many mascots in fact that they could be facing a mascot cull, but I say SAVE THE MASCOTS, there isn't enough cute in this world as it is, the more the merrier!