The Yuru-kyara Fever in Japan
This year’s Yuru-kyara Grand Prix was held in Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture on November 3rd.
Yuru-kyara are everywhere in Japan. But what are they exactly? Here is some information to help you understand what are these characters.
The word “Yuru-kyara” is short for “Yurui Mascot Character” in Japanese. Yurui means loose or slack.
Yuru-kyara have gained popularity as mascot characters and appear to support promotional campaigns and events for cities, organizations, local specialty products, events, etc.
The word Yuru-kyara was made by a famous comic artist Jun Miura.
Mr. Miura came up with the original idea of Yuru-kyara when he saw Bunkkaki, the mascot character representing an annual festival in Hiroshima.
The picture above is Bunkkaki.
Yuru-kyara have gradually gained popularity in local cities. Hikonyan, created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Hikone Castle, sparked the “Yuru-kyara boom”.
Mr. Miura came out with three requirements regarding Yuru-kyara’s features:
1. It has to send us a strong message of love for one’s hometown.
2. It has to show us bizarre and unique features.
3. Its laid-back attitude has to be loved by everyone.
Currently, there are recognized 1,699 Yuru-kyara according to the number of Grand Prix participants. In addition to popular local Yuru-kyara, there are also other types of Yuru-kyara such as corporate Yuru-kyara.
Many prefectural governments and companies adopt Yuru-kyara for the purpose of public relations. On the other hand, the super popular Yuru-kyara Funassyi is an unofficial mascot that represents Funabashi City. Because of the following Funassyi’s unique features, it has gained national recognition:
1. It TALKS.
2. It doesn’t have a laid-back attitude unlike other popular Yuru-kyara.
3. It is an unofficial mascot.
Funassyi often shows up in talk shows on TV because people enjoy its sharp tongue.
Yuru-kyara related products sell very well and greatly contribute to Japan’s economy.
Now that you know what are Yuru-kyara, let’s see the ranking of Yuru-kyara Grand Prix 2014 next!
Yuru-kyara Grand Prix Website: http://www.yurugp.jp/ (in Japanese)