Japanese mascots are super popular around the country and are a unique part of Japanese culture. They’re called yuru-kyara (meaning loose or relaxed character) or gotochi-kyara (local government character). The cutest Japanese mascots are colorful, creative, and kawaii (cute), embracing the Japanese kawaii aesthetic.
Japanese mascots are seen everywhere in Japan. These characters represent cities, regions, businesses, and events, as well as values and ideals. The local government of each region designs their mascot in a way that represents the livelihood, culture, and famous spots of the region. Let’s check out the top ten cutest Japanese mascots that Japan has to offer.
We won’t be covering the more corporate mascots, like the Pokemon mascots or Nintendo mascots.
Kumamon is the mascot of the Kumamoto Prefecture and one of the most popular mascots in Japan. It was originally created to attract tourists to the region after the Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train), one of the world’s fastest trains, was introduced. He even went on to win the 2011 Yuru Chara Grand Prix.
Kumamon’s appearance, that of a black bear with a perpetual open-mouthed smile, rosy red cheeks, and small pupils, has attracted a ton of fans. Kumamon is the king of Yuru-Chara and his celebrity status in Japan has become international. It’s not hard to love this adorable bear who appeals to everyone.
Kumamon has earned his title as one of the cutest Japanese mascots ever!
Another mascot that is super popular in Japan is Funassyi, who unofficially represented the city of Funabashi in Chiba prefecture. This “pear fairy” was created by anonymous residents of the town of Funabashi when they didn’t like their existing mascot. It was created with the goal to cheer up local residents and help promote their hometown.
Funassyi is full of personality and likes to move very fast, shriek, and jump. It even listens to heavy metal music, giving it a very Aggretsuko vibe!
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Hikonyan is the mascot of Hikone in Shiga prefecture. Hikonyan’s name combines two words. The beginning is the name of its city (Hikone), and the end is the Japanese sound for a cat’s meow (Nyan). Created in 2007 to mark the 400th anniversary of Hikone Castle, the cat even wears a samurai helmet inspired by an artifact in the castle museum.
Hikonyan has its roots in a local legend called li Naotaka, the 3rd lord of Hikone. The story tells of a white cat who saved li Naotaka, by inviting him inside a temple to shelter him from a terrible storm. This makes Hikonyan not only one of the cutest Japanese mascots, but also possibly the most related to Japanese mythology on this list.
You will love this mascot (if you’re a dog-lover). Sanomaru is a samurai dog mascot from Sano city in Tochigi prefecture, used to promote the city. It’s a huge, fuzzy, white puppy with delicate eyes and an adorable face.
Sanomaru wears symbols of famous local foods, such as a ramen noodle bowl as a hat and a fried potato skewers as a sword. These foods also just happen to be its town’s food specialty!
Fukka-chan is the mascot of the city Fukaya in Saitama Prefecture. It’s pretty shy, and its design is inspired by deers and rabbits. One thing that instantly catches your eye is Fukka-chan’s horns. You see, they’re leeks and a reference for the local specialty, Fukaya Negi (Japanese leeks).
Fukaya is also renowned for its tulips, which is why Fukka-chan has tulip-shaped buttons on its green overalls.
Arukuma is a chubby, green-colored bear with a cute apple hat. How can you not instantly fall in love with this mascot? Arukuma represents the Nagano prefectural government and was designed to promote the attractiveness of the prefecture.
Apples are one of the prefecture’s specialty products, but Arukuma sometimes wears hoods in the shapes of different Nagano products, such as bottles of wine, mushrooms, or soba (a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat), or even a Buddhist temple, representing Zenkoji Temple in the city of Nagano.
Barii-san is the mascot from Ehime prefecture, on the Shikoku island, and was created to be a cute guide of the city. This character is a chicken because the city is famous for yakitori (Japanese skewered chicken). It wears a haramaki (abdomen wrap) made of a cotton towel, which is the main product of the city. Barii-san also holds a boat-shaped wallet, a hint to the local Imabari Shipbuilding, the largest shipbuilder in Japan.
Polly Polaris is one of four current mascots for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, a Japanese baseball team. She is a cheerful, kind-hearted squirrel that loves dancing and cheering for her team. Polly loves playing pranks on others and is infamous for her crazy shenanigans, like just laying on the field and trying to take a nap.
Choruru is a mascot character who was created for the National Sports Festival of Japan which was held in Yamaguchi prefecture in 2011. It has a green antenna on its head, which is shaped like the first kanji (Japanese alphabet) character of the word Yamaguchi.
Mikyan is the official mascot of Ehime, a prefecture in Shikoku. He combines the design of a mikan (a type of orange) and a dog. Mikan oranges are a local specialty of Ehime. Mikyan is orange-colored, his ears are tangerine leaves, and there’s a tangerine flower at the end of his tail.
His name combines the word mikan and kyan (the Japanese sound for a dog’s bark). Kyan is also how many Japanese people pronounce the word ‘can’, so it can suggest a positive attitude.
Did one of our top ten cutest mascots catch your eye? Which one do you think is the cutest? Let us know in the comments below!
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