Do not be surprised if you happen to go to Osaka in Japan and encounter a huge, moving, cuddly mascot. It’s just one among the many mascots (or yuru-kyara) the prefecture funds to promote different aspects of the prefecture’s local culture. But with Osaka having so many mascots — 45 mascots, to be exact — for numerous things most people not even acutely aware what they represent, the local government is seriously considering putting some characters on the chopping block.
Perhaps the most famous yuru-kyara in all of Japan hails from Kumamoto Prefecture. Kumamon, a happy black bear with a red hat has been successful in promoting the southern prefecture for the past years. But Osaka, aware that their numerous mascots fall short to Kumamon’s fame, is thinking of ridding the prefecture lesser utilized mascots and focusing on Moppy, a bird-like yuru-kyara, to represent it. Osaka governor Ichiro Matsui noted that the region “has too many characters.” Adding that, “People do not know what they are promoting or what policy they are trying to raise awareness of.” Aside from Moppy, there is Kushitan, which advertises Osaka cuisine and Makki, representing the town of Matsubara. In spite of these three and the other mascots in Osaka, Matsui recognizes that Kumamon and Funassyi from Funabashi, a fruit-producing city near Tokyo, are hard acts to follow. With that, Matsui has decided that Moppy, which represents a bird native in the region, will be Osaka’s major mascot. Moppy came out in 1997 and while he is famous in Osaka, he remains low in popularity nationwide.
Matsui has decided to give the bird-like mascot a family and a voice to match. “Moppy Junior could help promote child-rearing policies and Moppy wife could help with women’s employment issues,” said the governor. But not everyone in the city is happy to know that some of their loveable yuru-kyara could be culled. “Each department devoted energy to creating the mascots, and each mascot is loved by the government officials,” said vice-governor Yasuyuki Ogawa.
[via The Guardian]
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