Each year a public vote is held to decide Japan’s most popular mascot. The Yuruchara Grand Prix attracts millions of votes from citizens all over the country, all rooting for their favourite characters. Last year 1,421 mascots entered the contest and the winner, with 4,345,960 votes, was Shinjou-kun, a character from Susaki City in Kochi Prefecture, based on a recently-extinct local river otter with a bowl of nabeyaki ramen on his head. (Perhaps the bowl is an example of the river pollution that led to the extinction.)

While reigning champ Shinjou-kun basks in glory, what about the characters at the other end of the scale? Spare a thought for the seven nondescript yuru-chara below, who suffered the indignity of coming in joint 1,114th (last) place. In the mascot community, this sorry bunch would get permanently swiped left on Tinder.

Ushi Goro is the bovine mascot for Ushizuashikari City Chamber Of Commerce and Industry.

The gardening-loving Mole-kun represents a Fukuoka garden centre called Ground Factory.

A8-Kun is the bee mascot for internet service provider, A8.net.

The pink dinosaur, Kyu-Chan, mascots for plumbing company, Toirex 9.

Machida’s Grandberry Mall has a shopping-mad female dog called Beriinu-Chan for a mascot.

Mokuzou promotes high quality lumber from the precious old trees of Osaka’s Settsu City. He has a tree stump for a hat.

The nightmarish Nukamura-kun travels the country promoting the Kitakyushu dish, nukamisodaki (headless fish pickled in fermented rice-bran).

Better luck next year, guys!
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