What Is Yurukyara and What’s So Good About It?

Jun 20, 2017


Learn the world of Japanese Yurui Mascot Characters!

 

As most of you are informed, there is no other country more colorful and exciting other than what we have here in Japan. In fact, when it comes to entertainment, it may be top on the list. I’m pretty sure most people know about Super Mario, Hello Kitty and Doraemon but there’s more to those characters in which you can be entertained with when in Japan.

what is yurukyara and whats so good about it

By Fuchu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

For one there is “Yurukyara”. The rising fame of these japanese characters or mascots can be attributed to the TV programs and local events featuring them as part of local immersion.

 

What is Yurukyara?

The term yurukyara is a short version for “Yurui mascot characters”. They have been introduced around 2007 and has since been famous when “Hikonyan” – a promotional character of the famous Hikone Castle in Shiga Prefecture was created to celebrate its 400 years anniversary. Yurui means “loose” in japanese or they rather connote soft, gentle and lovable beings.

Most Yurukyaras are created by companies and organizations as part of their brand promotion so that people would easily associate their products when they see these mascots. Special Yurukyaras that are created by local groups are called “Gotochi-kyara” (local characters), and their outfits often advertise tourist attractions, specialties or delicacies or famous historical person from within their area. In this way, they can introduce their local foods in a more fun and interesting way.  The ones who have gained so much popularity may eventually be featured in TV shows to increase awareness.

 

Types of Yurukyaras

As mentioned above, there are several types of this japanese mascots. Most mascots don’t actually have a talking voice but more and more people are improvising to introduce mascots that can talk and interact with people. These mascots need to be entertaining and funny. Check out several yurukyara characters I have listed below:

what is yurukyara and whats so good about it

By Muyo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39485943

Kumamon

  • is a promotional mascot created by the Kumamoto prefecture for the inauguration of Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) in 2011. This character won the Yurukyara Grand Prix in the same year. He is a black bear with red round cheeks. He is still very famous and active until now due to his kawaii moves which attracts many people. He is one of the most successful mascot character throughout the years.
what is yurukyara

By Takusanfilia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29968920

Funasshy

  • this character is quite famous with its bizarre voice and strange moves. Perhaps everyone in japan already knows about him because he’s a regular in most TV programs. This mascot is from Hunabashi City in Chiba prefecture and was born from a japanese pear as a fair “Nashi” (japanese pear). His odd but funny moves had bewildered the crowd and entertained them in many ways.

 

Yurukyara Grand Prix

To cap off this trending concept, a big event is held for yurukyara enthusiasts from all over japan and is done once a year. This event is called Yurukyara Grand Prix. Many aspiring participants gather around to showcase their talents and people can actually socialize with them during the event which is open for everyone to see. The venues are decided differently each year but the event takes place within 2-3 days which is usually on the weekends. In the last years, there were 1,421 participating characters who entered the competition and more than 76,894 expectators came to witness  the event. You can visit your favorite characters in their designated booths and take a selfie with them. A parade will also be held together with their promotional stages and lastly, a champion’s victory ceremony will be conducted in the end. In addition, you can purchase character goods or “merch” from stalls and kiosks.

what is yurukyara

By Yuriko IKEDA – DSC_4932, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39892854

In order to determine the winner, people can vote for their favorite character on the yurukyara official website in advance. The Grand Prix  this year will be held at Nagashima Resorts in Mie prefecture on November 18-19, 2017. So you should look forward to it! The admission fee is only 600 yen for adult admission and 300 yen for children. If you purchase the tickets in advance you will have a 100 yen discount.

Please take note that the voting period for 2017 participants will run from August 1, 2017 until November 10, 2017.

So I encourage you to go and meet charming, new characters on this year’s Yurukyara Grand Prix event. Have fun!

Yokoo/ JAPAN

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