All this week, the Furusato Matsuri (home town festival) is being held in the enormous Tokyo Dome. It’s mainly an excuse to sample local delicacies from all over the country, but plenty of mascots can be seen milling around there. I went there on Sunday, and here are a few of the characters I encountered:
An exhibition of pictures and memorabilia related to Kumamoto Prefecture’s beloved bear mascot, Kumamon, is currently being held in Tokyo’s Matsuya Ginza Department Store. The exhibition is free and will be held until December 28th. Items on display include illustrations and life-size models of Kumamon, photographs from his recent tour of France, and several costumes worn by the photogenic bear. I went along today and enjoyed it immensely.
Last weekend was the annual Gotouchi-chara Festival in Sumida, Tokyo. One hundred different regional mascots gathered at three stages and a park near the base of Japan’s tallest structure, the Sky Tree. Here are some pictures from the first day of the event.
Yesterday various yuru-chara mascots from around Japan were to be found on Tokyo’s Nishi-Ginza Dori for the 11th annual Willow Festival, a festival named after the trees that line the street.
The best-known of the characters in attendance was the ubiquitous Kumamon, who soaked up most of the attention as he paraded around in a traditional robe.
Kumamon was joined by fellow bear, Arukuma, the official mascot of Nagano prefecture. He enjoys walking and has a variety of different hats.
Also at the event was the minimalistic Kitekero-kun, the “hospitalitiy section manager” of Yamagata prefecture, pictured here without his trademark rolling suitcase.
Gunma-chan and Mito-chan, pictured below, have a lot in common. They are both tiny and are named after their hometowns. Gunma-chan has been around since 1983 (since when he has evolved from a blue-maned horse into his current incarnation), and won the coveted Yuruchara Grand Prix prize in 2014. Mito-chan, of Mito City, Ibaraki, has only been around for four years and is modelled on the television period drama character, Mito Komon.
On Sunday I was lucky enough to witness a couple celebrating their wedding with various yuru-chara, including Kumamon. The mascot-crazed couple’s nuptials were among the festivities at the World Mascot Summit in Hanyu, Saitama. Kumamon looked eager to whisk the bride away himself, the scoundrel.