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Whatever happened to Domo-kun, the furry brown monster with the jagged maw? When I first got to Japan I used to see him everywhere. Now Chiitan, the masochistic Otter who reps the city of Susaki in Kochi Prefecture, stacks my social media feeds with memes, and Unari-kun, from Narita, is the current reigning champion of the Mascot Grand Prix. Domo-kun has some serious competition.

The NHK mascot was the first yuru-chara (literally, soft character) to achieve success overseas thanks mostly to a photoshopped picture of two Domos chasing a kitten that went viral in 2002, according to the website Know Your Meme. But our little woolly friend became a star in Japan after debuting in a series of stop-motion sketches in 1998. That’s right, Domo turns 20 in December.

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