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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogRilakkuma: A Look at His Amazing World!

Rilakkuma: A Look at His Amazing World!

By Thalia Harris
July 10, 2024
Rilakkuma against a baby blue background.

Imagine a world where relaxation isn’t just a luxury but a way of life. That’s the world of Rilakkuma, the lovable brown bear who has captured hearts across Japan and beyond. With his soft, cuddly appearance and perpetually laid-back attitude, Rilakkuma isn’t just a cute character – he’s a cultural icon who embodies the art of taking it easy in a fast-paced world!

What is the history of San-X?

San-X is a Japanese company that creates cute characters and products, with a history dating back to 1932. Originally named Chida Handler after its founder, Kyozo Chida, the company produced regular stationery for adults. In 1973, it changed its name to San-X (san means “three” in Japanese, referring to the three X’s in their logo) and began adding fun patterns and characters to its products.

Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma on beach-themed wallpaper.
They even have limited-edition water bottle covers in the summer! Image via Get Wallpapers

The company’s first original character, Rompish Clown, was created in 1980, marking the beginning of its character-driven approach. San-X gained popularity in the late 1990s and 2000s with characters like Tarepanda and Kogepan. Rilakkuma, introduced in 2003, became especially famous. Today, San-X continues creating beloved characters like the Sumikko Gurashi group, which debuted in 2012. The company maintains its reputation for quirky, endearing designs that appeal to all ages.

Who is Rilakkuma?

Rilakkuma is a popular San-X character who debuted in 2003. This lovable brown bear’s name combines the words “relax” and “bear” in Japanese, perfectly describing his laid-back personality. Rilakkuma is known for his love of relaxation and the mysterious zipper on his back, suggesting he might be wearing a costume.

A crew member touching up the Rilakkuma and Korillakkuma models for the show.
This show uses stop-motion animation. Image via The Japan Times

He isn’t alone in his adventures. He’s joined by three other main characters: Korilakkuma, a small white bear who loves mischief; Kiiroitori, a hardworking yellow bird who takes care of the others; and Chairoikoguma, a little brown bear who joined the group in 2016. Together, these characters appear in various products, from stationery to plush toys, and even starred in their stop-motion animation series on Netflix called Rilakkuma and Kaoru!

Are you looking for adorable Rilakkuma merch? Check out YumeTwins! YumeTwins sends kawaii character goods from Japanese plushies, figures, accessories, and home goods straight from Japan to your door!

Does he have any video games I should try?

Yes, Rilakkuma has a few video games that fans can enjoy. One popular game is Rilakkuma Farm, a relaxing mobile game for iOS and Android devices. Players can grow crops, make delicious treats, and decorate their farm alongside Rilakkuma and his friends in this game. It’s a cute and laid-back game that allows you to experience farm life with your favorite lazy bear.

A screenshot of a video game featuring Rilakkuma the Bear.
Which game is your favorite! Image via Japanese Nintendo

Another game featuring the famous bear is Rilakkuma at Home. This casual game lets players interact with Rilakkuma in different home settings. It’s not as well-known as Rilakkuma Farm but offers a cozy experience. Fans can spend virtual time with their favorite character. Both games capture Rilakkuma’s relaxed and charming nature. They’re great choices for those seeking a stress-free gaming experience with this beloved character.

Are there any other San-X characters I should know about?

Sentimental Circus is another charming character series from San-X that you should definitely know about. Created in 2008, Sentimental Circus tells the story of a group of abandoned plush toys that come to life at night in a magical circus. The main character is Shappo, a white rabbit wearing a black top hat and serving as this whimsical circus’s ringmaster.

Stuffed animals from an imaginary circus swirling around shooting stars.
They’re a group of stuffed animals who come alive at night to put on a show! Image via Rakuten Shijo

Other members of Sentimental Circus include Kuro, a black cat, and various other cute animal characters with unique personalities and roles within the circus. These characters appear on various products, from stationery to plush toys, and have gained a dedicated following among San-X fans. While not as globally famous as Rilakkuma or Sumikko Gurashi, Sentimental Circus offers a touch of nostalgia and magic that appeals to many kawaii enthusiasts

Why is Rilakkuma important in Japanese pop culture?

Rilakkuma has become an important figure in Japanese culture because he contrasts the country’s intense work culture. Created in 2003, this relaxed bear embodies the idea of taking it easy and enjoying simple pleasures. This resonates deeply with many people!

A scene from Rilakkuma and Kaoru at a table.
What do you like about Rilakkuma the most? Image via Rotten Tomatoes

In a society that values productivity and hard work, Rilakkuma’s laid-back attitude offers escapism and a reminder to slow down. His popularity shows a growing desire among Japanese people, especially younger generations, to find balance and prioritize relaxation and self-care.

Through his merchandise, animations, and overall presence in Japanese media, Rilakkuma encourages people to embrace a more stress-free lifestyle. This makes him not just a cute character but also a cultural icon representing an essential shift in Japanese values and attitudes toward work and leisure.

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Thalia Harris

Writer living in Tokyo who likes stories, music and video games. <3

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