Japanese Mascots (ゆるキャラ): The Unpopular Hyakuman-san - Vikingess Voyages

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Japanese Mascots (ゆるキャラ): The Unpopular Hyakuman-san

In recent years, the use of mascots in public context has gained increasing popularity in Japan. As a result, the number of mascots has skyrocketed, and any Japanese prefecture with a little self-respect naturally has a mascot of its own. Mascots are better known as "Yuru-Kyara " (ゆる キャラ) in Japanese , which can be translated into "loose characters". These characters are often made ​​by the government to represent the prefecture externally, and are for instance used for marketing various products from the prefecture. The Japanese mascots participate in a wide variety of events on behalf of their prefecture, such as the annual Japanese sports festival, or through acting on TV as sumo wrestlers. And the mascots can become quite valuable for the places they represent. The mascot Kumamon from Kumamoto was named Japan's most popular mascot in an online survey in 2011, and in 2012 Kumamon artifacts were sold for more than 29 billion yen.

But even if yuru-kyara is a very popular phenomenon in Japan, it is still not all mascots who achieve glory. The latest example of this is Ishikawa-ken's new mascot with the appealing (?) name Hyakuman-san (さん, Mr. One Million). The Japanese morning show みのもんたズバッ! ( Mino Monta no Asa Zuba ! on TBS ) introduced the new mascot on their show last week , and announced that the mascot had created a fuzz in Ishikawa because a large number of citizens thought it looked ugly. Hyakuman-san looks like some kind of fancy gold colored daruma doll, decorated with flowers and with a large mustache. But it seems like a flowery and goldish mustache man does not quite do the trick in a country where everything is supposed to be sweet (“kawaii”) and innocent. Nevertheless, there have been examples before where unpopular yuru-kyara eventually has gained acceptance by the people. A good example is Nara's mascot, the controversial Buddha-deer Sento-kun. Sento-kun was also the center of ridicule for a long time, but despite criticism from various groups it seems like he is here to stay. Although Hyakuman-san seems to be rather a failure so far, perhaps also this yuru-kyara can manage to capture the hearts of the Japanese people eventually..
The unpopular Hyakuman-san (百万さん)
Here is a picture of Hyakuman-san. What do you think? Is he really as ugly as some people say?

(For those of you who can read Japanese, here is an article about Hyakuman-san featured in j-town)

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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