Over the weekend I went to a nearby shopping mall to make some purchases and take in the new Star Wars movie one final time before it leaves the theaters. While walking through the mall, I encountered a giant yellow cat creature posing for photos, which was a yuru-chara (roughly “laid back character mascot”). While this was a corporate character named Ja-nyan created to promote a magazine that advertises employment positions, most of Japan’s famous yuru-chara exist to promote various rural areas, to tell you how good Kit Kat made with green tea from Kumamoto is, for example, or to promote Gunma Prefecture with cute origami. While making characters that promote awareness of rural regions in Japan might seem quaint, it’s also big business, generating US$20 billion in sales of licensed goods each year.
One thing I’ve observed about the Japanese is that they enjoy dividing themselves into sub-groups using the word 派 ha, meaning faction (as in politics) or denomination (as in the different sects of Buddhism), but about very unimportant things. If a man likes wearing briefs-style underwear he is buriifu–ha, or briefs faction, but if he prefers trunks instead then he’s torankusu-ha or trunks faction. There’s an ongoing debate in my family about whether fried eggs are better with soy sauce or that heavenly Bull-Dog Sauce. While I’m usually shoyu-ha or “soy sauce faction,” I switch to the sauce-ha or “sauce faction” if the fried egg in question will be part of a sandwich or bagel. In the new Dagashi Kashi anime, many fans are naturally taken by the ample charms of Hotaru, though as the episodes progress many have switched to “Team Saya.” Which group do you belong to?
We love to find fun and interesting products from Japan for our customers, and lately we’ve been posting lots of awesome Splatoon official products, from plush toys to figures to the awesome “doujin” (fan-created) remixes of the Splatoon game music. Browse our stock now!