Two characters stand out from the crowd in Japan’s ‘yuru-kyara’ mascot fad

JIJI

Kumamon and Funassyi stand out as well-known “yurukyara” among the many mascots developed by prefectures and municipalities, according to a think tank’s study.

A nationwide survey found that more than 80 percent of the respondents said they know Kumamon, the bear mascot representing Kumamoto Prefecture, and Funassyi, a pear fairy representing Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, the Nippon Research Center said.

But most mascots remain obscure. “Many are popular only in their local communities,” a Nippon Research Center analyst said, noting the need to promote the mascots outside their home regions.

The survey was conducted June 4 to 16, drawing 1,200 valid responses from men and women. The center asked respondents whether they know 27 major local mascots chosen by the center.

Kumamon was best known among the 27 characters, recognized by 88 percent of all respondents. Funassyi came in second with a recognition rate of 86 percent.

Sentokun of Nara Prefecture, a boy character with deer horns, ranked third with 74 percent. Hikonyan, a cat mascot representing Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, followed with 51 percent.

Fifteen of the characters — more than half — were known by less than 10 percent of the respondents.

Of all respondents, 74 percent said they like yurukyara mascots in general. Support was highest at 85 percent among women in their 40s, while it was lowest at 54 percent among men in their 70s.