Month: February 2018

Mito-chan’s Birthday Party


Last week I paid a visit to the picturesque Kairakuen Park in Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. It was the birthday party of local mascot, Mito-chan, and lots of other mascots were there to celebrate. Among the characters present were the reigning Yuruchara Grand Prix champion, Unari-kun the eel/aeroplane from Narita City, and the ever-popular Hikonyan, the samurai cat from Hikone City. The highlight of the festivities was a shambolic but entertaining mascot relay race.

Here are some pictures I took at the event.



Coroton and Kamisukoko-kun










Hikonyan meets Mito-chan

Mascot relay race

Spaboon: A New Comic About Mascots

All this mascot-watching has got my creative juices flowing. Using some of my own tentative character designs, I’ve made a new satirical comic about Spaboon, a failed Japanese pharmaceutical company mascot.

Spaboon is a half-spoon, half-baboon hybrid, so when he is laid off by Epoch Pharma Corporation, his prospects are extremely limited, and he finds himself unemployed. In issue one, he falls in with a group of activists.

You can pick up issue one here: Spaboon Issue #1

Ski Resort Character Grand Prix 2017-2018

For four years running, the winter sports website Fuyusupo has held a vote to decide the nation’s favourite ski resort mascot. The results of this year’s contest were announced at a special ceremony in Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture on Sunday, so I went along. The event resembled a big warehouse sale of ski gear, with a small stage for the mascot ceremony. I don’t think anybody else had come to see the mascots, but a small cluster of curious bargain-hunters eventually gathered around the stage when the announcements began.

Ticket-kun and Ponta

Out of the contest’s fifty entrants, half a dozen were in attendance, along with the website’s mascot, a ski-lift-ticket-loving dog named Ticket-kun.

The winner of the 2016-2017 Ski Resort Character Grand Prix had been a snow-covered conifer named Jukki-kun, representing Zao Onsen Resort in Yamagata. I spotted him in the audience at this year’s event, proudly showing off his trophy.

Last year’s winner, Jukki-kun

The new winners, Muhyoko-chan and Taiki-kun, with their trophy.

As it turned out, the winners of this year’s prize were also mascots from Zao Onsen (there are three). Named Taiki-kun and Muhyoko-chan, the champions were two more snow-coated trees.

In second place was a raccoon dog named Ponta, from Chausuyama Ski Resort (not to be mistaken with that other raccoon dog named Ponta, the mascot for the Ponta shopping point card.)

In third place was the unfortunately-named pig, Pork-kun, from Joetsu International Ski Area.


After the voting results were revealed, the mascots played “janken” (rock, paper, scissors) with volunteers from the small crowd, and the winners got prizes. I was lucky enough to beat one of the Grand Prix victors, Taiki-kun, and I won a one-day ski-slope pass for Zao Onsen ski resort. If only I didn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to Yamagata to use it!

Searching for Kan-chan


Earlier this month I managed to catch a rare appearance by Kan-chan, the notorious “enema penguin” mascot of Ichijiku Pharmaceuticals. Ichijiku manufacture fig-based laxatives and enemas, so Kan-chan was not only designed to resemble an enema, but also made in the shape and colour of a fig. The addition of eyes, a beak, and feet give Kan-chan the cute factor required of all mascots.

I had been hoping to encounter Kan-chan for months, and I had previously planned to track the strange creature down at a pharmaceuticals expo late last year, but that event was cancelled due to rain. I was delighted when I discovered that Kan-chan would be appearing once again at a special Ichijiku event held at the foot of the famous towering structure, the Tokyo Sky Tree, so I hurried along before work.

Intestinal vending machine

In addition to meeting the bizarre mascot, visitors were also able to get free gifts in plastic capsules dispensed from a vending machine designed to look like an intestine. I won an exclusive Kan-chan key-ring, which I will treasure.

Kan-chan keyring

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