Mascot menagerie: from the practical to the satirical

In the Aug. 30 Light Gist column, headlined “Mascots on a mission to explain the mundane,” Colin P. A. Jones explored the marvellous menagerie of mascots deployed by Japanese authorities to educate adults and children alike about the law and the workings of government.

The Japan Times invited readers to design their own cuddly characters for the Japanese bureaucracy. Here, clockwise from top left, are the winning entries:

Toki, a Ministry of Agriculture mascot, was created by Chihiro Nakamizo, a student at Saitama’s Columbia International School.

Adam Pasion from Nagoya designed Parkingyo (gyo being one reading of the kanji for fish), whose job is to check that people are parking correctly.

Massugu Kaeru, by Michiru Morikawa, from Kakamigahara, Gifu, urges children to go straight home after school and not dally.

Tanpo was created by Jimi Okelana from Nagoya. His mission is to educate people on how to be good pedestrians. Tanpo is a pun on tako (octopus) and sanpo (walking).

Hyacinth — derived from hiyasu (to cool) — is the brain child of Tetsuya Yamamoto, also from Nagoya. Hyacinth reminds people to keep cool and avoid heatstroke in summer.

Tim Ernst in Akita city drew Ben with no specific role in mind — a mascot rōnin.

Fuku-yu Mausu is Woody Epstein’s present to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) — “my favorite government agency,” he writes from Saitama.

And finally, Namie is an alternative option for beleaguered NISA, courtesy of Roberto De Vido in Yokosuka, Kanagawa.

Thank you to everyone who sent in submissions, and apologies to those whose entries we couldn’t publish due to space limitations.