In addition to all the cute, globally famous characters in Japan, like Hello Kitty! Cinnamon Roll and more, each prefecture and even some cities have their own mascot. However, recently one of them has become famous all over the Japanese nation: Kumamon.
Kumamon is the mascot of the Kumamoto prefecture, in the southern region of Kyushu. It was created to promote tourism in the area right after the Kyushu Bullet Train service (one of the fastest in Japan and in the world) started operations.
However, what makes Kumamon different from other mascots is its comicality and its often clumsy movements. Just check this video of Kumamon doing some calisthenics (a physical activity which surprisingly many people in Japan do EVERY morning at work or at a local park) to understand what kind of character he is.
Besides being featured on TV programs and videos, he’s also been a marketing success. I have seen many Kumamon items going on sale every month. From towels to mugs, to toilet paper and tissues.
On top of that, this weeks TV news surprised me (and I guess many more people as well) with a Kumamoto teddy bear made in Germany that fits the typical image of similar characters overseas. It costs more than 10,000 yen.
And though it is not the first time a Japanese cute character has become famous all over the country (Hatsune Miku and the LINE stickers come to mind). I believe it is the first time they have used a character in so many ridiculous situations. Just take a look at this video of Kumamoto dancing to Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 hit, “Call me maybe”.