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Rilakkuma Teaches Us How To Relax and Embrace a Stress-Free Lifestyle

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Rilakkuma is the infamous teddy bear with a zipper on his back, lounging, spending time with his friends and consuming 24/7.

That zipper in his back caused a debate of whether he was just a man in a costume or if he was a real bear or not. Nonetheless, Rilakkuma and his friends have gained international recognition and acclaim, not only because of his cuteness, but for the idea he represents. Just like his name entails, Rilakkuma is a combination of “relaxation” and “kuma” (bear in Japanese). He is the antithesis of our consistently busy culture, reminding us of the importance of rest and relaxation. 

Rilakkuma started to gain popularity early 2000s as Rilakkuma merch can be found in UFO machines across Japan. Soon after, production of Rilakkuma goods has dramatically increased and in 2010’s Character Databank survey, he was crowned as Japan's fifth most popular character. Rilakkuma merch varies from practical goods such as bento boxes, bags, stationery, and handkerchiefs to limited edition plushies and keychains. There are many people in Japan and beyond that are avid collectors of Rilakkuma merch.

This adorable bear is the creation of Aki Kondo for San-X, the same company that created and produces Sumikkogurashi. Rilakkuma was initially featured in comics that started in 2003 called Rilakkuma Seikatsu that tells the story of Rilakkuma and his friends who lived in the home of Kaoru, a single office woman. In 2019, a Netflix series called “Rilakkuma and Kaoru” premiered and gave life to this complacent teddy bear. The director of the series, Masahito Kobayashi and his talented production crew created an animated stop motion world, which was painstakingly long and difficult to create, but resulted in an impressive and high-quality animation with heart tugging and relatable stories.

So, who are the other characters in Rilakkuma’s world? 

Kaoru

Photo: "Rilakkuma and Kaoru" ©2019 San-X Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Kaoru is the benefactor of Rilakkuma and his friends. They all live and spend their days in her apartment. While she spends day by day working in an office, she returns in the comfort knowing that they are there to take her stress away and help her relax. While she was actually initially featured as a faceless character in the comics, she was given a face later on the comics. She is also further fleshed out,  given character and personality in the new 2019 Netflix series. She struggles with problems a lot of us probably go through like how to deal with uncontrollable online shopping compulsions, career goals and romantic woes. However, like us, she finds her solace at home with Rilakkuma and the small family that gathered around her.

Korilakkuma

Photo: "Rilakkuma and Kaoru" ©2019 San-X Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Korilakkuma is a white bear with a red button on her chest. No one knows where Korilakkuma comes from and like Rilakkuma, she suddenly appeared in Kaoru’s home. She is very energetic and mischievous. She likes tricks and pranks and likes to draw in Rilakkuma’s face when he’s sleeping. She also has a remote-controlled duck that she plays with often.

Kiiroitori

Photo: "Rilakkuma and Kaoru" ©2019 San-X Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Kiiroitori literally translates as yellow bird. He is Kaoru's pet that lives inside a birdcage but is free to fly and leave it anytime he pleases. He often scolds Rilakkuma for his laziness and Korilakkuma for her naughtiness. Unlike the bears, he is portrayed as one with maturity and logic. Kiiroitori is a perfect balance to his housemates, and is the voice of reason. He likes to keep busy, clean the apartment and takes care of the bears when Kaoru is not at home. 

Chairoikoguma

A new bear in the block that joined the family in 2016. Chairoikoguma is a bear who lives in a Honey Forest and was initially befriended by Korilakkuma. Unlike Korillakuma and Rilakkuma, he is most likely a real bear with fangs, paws, furry and a love of honey. He is also usually drawn in all fours. He also has a bee friend that is sometimes found attached to him, Kumanbachi.

Rilakkuma merch could be found scattered in Japan. In 2012, Rilakkuma was featured in Tower Records as its mascot, having a ‘Relaxed Tour 2012’ with special edition promotional goods. Special promotional Rilakkuma goods can be seen in Lawson and also enjoyed campaigning with the busy JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo. You could also enjoy original Rilakkuma merch in our Yume Twins subscription boxes delivered right straight to your home from Japan.

If you see Rilakkuma, remember that there is more to life than working all the time. Like Kaoru, a full day of work or school is enough, and home should be a place of solace and rest. Take your time to spend with your loved ones, no matter how trivial it could be. Only then you could be truly recharged and prepared to take on the world in a brand-new day.

Who is your favorite Rilakkuma character and why? In what way does Rilakkuma give you happiness? Is there certain Rilakkuma merch that you want to get your hands on? Let’s talk cute and gush about our favorite teddy bear (or is he?)!

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