Japan is home to countless cute characters. While the likes of Hello Kitty and Pikachu are world-famous, Japanese people may have a stronger affinity for their local mascots, known as yuru-chara or gotouchi-chara. These characters represent a town or prefecture, and often embody the region’s local attractions. While normally you would have go on a nationwide tour to collect them, now grab as many as you want from the comfort of your own home with Buyee and Yahoo! Auctions. Enjoy a sampling of Japan’s adorable tourism ambassadors.
The Pride of Kumamoto: The Cheerful Kumamon
The most famous of Japan’s regional mascots is undoubtedly Kumamon, representing Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. The simplistic design of the smiling bear captured hearts all over Japan and contributed to a large tourism boom to the region. The character was also used promote relief efforts after the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. This backpack is filled with first aid supplies, ensuring you have a safe trip wherever you go with Kumamon.
Hikonyan, the Samurai Cat of Hikone
Winner of the first ever Yuru-chara Grand Prix, a contest deciding the most popular regional mascot of Japan, Hikonyan promotes Hikone in Kansai’s Shiga Prefecture. Known for it’s incredible castle, Hikone is a hotspot tourist destination. The white cat sports the famed helmet of samurai lord Ii Naomasa. The feline is not limited to Shiga however, as the featured keychains see him pair up with Tarumaru, the mascot celebrating the 150th anniversary of Yokohama’s port opening. It’s a two for one yuru-chara deal!
The Gourmet Pup of Tochigi, Sanomaru
Not to be outdone by cats, dogs also have their own cute samurai: Sanomaru from Sano City in Tochigi Prefecture. Protected by a ramen bowl helmet and wielding fried potato skewers, Sanomaru highlight’s the areas delicious delicacies. The puppy also won the 2013 Yuru-chara Grand Prix contest, helping him become known throughout Japan. He became popular enough to be featured in the Yuru-chara All Stars figure set linked below. Why grab one when you can have two?
Flying High with Narita’s Unarikun
If you come to Japan, you will likely pass through Unarikun’s home of Narita, home to Japan’s biggest international airport. It’s only appropriate that it’s yuru-kyara, Unarikun, embodies the spirit of flight with it’s plane design. Though it may look like a bird, it’s actually an eel, which is a famous dish in the region. It won last year’s character contest, which led to a flood of new merchandise. This photo book details its rise to fame and is also a fun way to practice Japanese.
The Fearsome Bear of the North: Yubari’s Melon Kuma
Putting two bears on the list may be redundant, but you’ve never seen one quite like Melon Kuma of Yubari. While the small Hokkaido town has a population of less than 9,000, it’s quite famous for the Yubari King melon grown in the area. What better way to symbolize this than a snarling bear with a melon head? While it mostly sports a fierce visage, there are also cute variations, such as these two stuffed animals. Whether you like them scary or cute, this mascot scores high marks for both!
If you missed out on these specific items, don’t worry as Yahoo! Auctions gets thousands of entries every minute. Search for keywords via Buyee, and see if you can find an even better deal than what’s listed here! Check back next Friday for more bargains!