Tag: ‘Mascot’

Cute ‘Pluto-kun’ cartoon dispels plutonium fears

29 Mar 2011

In the early 1990s, Japan's Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC) -- a nuclear energy research organization which is now part of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) -- created a pro-nuclear PR cartoon entitled "Pluto-kun, Our Reliable Friend." The aim of the animated film, which features the company mascot Pluto-kun, is to dispel some of the fears surrounding plutonium. Scroll down for a rough summary.


+ Video

[~1:30] The video begins with Pluto-kun disguised as a ghost. He explains that much of the fear surrounding plutonium is due to misconceptions. He says that it is very unfortunate that plutonium is used in nuclear weapons [like the one dropped on Nagasaki]. But he hates war! He loves to work for peace. He aspires to be like dynamite, whose power has been used for the benefit of mankind.

[1:30] Pluto-kun provides some basic information about plutonium. He explains that plutonium is created from uranium in nuclear reactors. He also says it was discovered by the US scientist Glenn T. Seaborg in 1940, and that it was named after the dwarf planet Pluto. (See Wikipedia for more.)

[2:30] Misconception #1 -- Pluto-kun addresses the fear that criminals could obtain plutonium and build a nuclear weapon. He explains two reasons why this would be virtually impossible. First, weapons require plutonium with a purity of at least 93%, but plutonium from reactors is only about 70% pure. A high level of technology would be required to produce weapons from this plutonium. Second, a high level of security is maintained around plutonium in Japan, making it all but impossible to steal.

Pluto-kun -- Pluto-kun --

[4:00] Misconception #2 -- Pluto-kun addresses the fear that plutonium is deadly and causes cancer. Plutonium's danger to the human body stems from the alpha radiation it emits. Because alpha radiation is relatively weak, it does not penetrate the skin, and plutonium is not absorbed into the body if it comes into contact with skin. He explains that you would not die instantly if you were to drink plutonium. If swallowed, the vast majority simply passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed. If it enters the blood stream (through a cut, for example) it cannot be removed easily from the body. It accumulates in the lymph nodes before ending up in the bones or liver, where it continues emitting alpha radiation. Plutonium can also get into the liver or bones if it is inhaled into the lungs. It is important not to breathe it in or allow it to enter the blood stream.

[6:00] No human is ever known to have died because of inhaling or ingesting plutonium.

[7:00] Pluto-kun explains what would happen if criminals dumped plutonium into a reservoir that provides our drinking water. Plutonium is heavy and it does not dissolve easily in water, so most of it would sink to the bottom. Even if you were to drink plutonium-laced water everyday, the vast majority of it would simply pass through the digestive system without being absorbed by the body.

Pluto-kun -- Pluto-kun --

[7:30] Pluto-kun suggests that the dangers of plutonium are often overemphasized, making it seem scarier than it actually is. He explains that most people associate plutonium with deadly radiation and nuclear weapons, but he likens this to a fear of non-existent ghosts.

[9:40] Pluto-kun explains that he is not a monster, and he asks you to understand who he truly is. As long as people use him peacefully and with care, there will never be any danger or anything to fear. He will provide an endless source of energy for a long time to come. He will be a reliable friend.

Decorated gas tanks

10 Mar 2011

Local gas companies occasionally add a touch of character to the giant spherical gas containers that dot the landscape of Japan. Here are a few examples.

Decorated gasholder in Japan --
Nicotan (mascot of Shibata Gas) -- Shibata, Niigata prefecture [via]

Decorated gastank in Japan --
Watermelon -- Tomisato, Chiba prefecture [via]

Decorated gas holder in Japan --
Hikari-chan and Gatto-kun -- Niigata [via]

Decorated gas tank in Japan --
Zen monk-poet Ryōkan -- Tsubame, Niigata prefecture [via]

Decorated gasholder in Japan --
Soccer ball -- Kiryū, Gunma prefecture [via]

Decorated gastank in Japan --
Tokkikki (Niigata prefectural mascots) -- Niigata [via]

Decorated gas holder in Japan --
Ōnyūdō -- Yokkaichi, Mie prefecture

Decorated gas tank in Japan --
Peach -- Akaiwa, Okayama prefecture [via]

Decorated gasholder in Japan --
Ouchi dolls -- Yamaguchi prefecture [via]

Decorated gastank in Japan --
Welcome to Isesaki -- Gunma prefecture [via]

Decorated gas holder in Japan --
"Taisha" wheeled fish toy -- Niigata [via]

Decorated gas tank in Japan --
Morioka Gas character dancing the Sansa Odori -- Morioka, Iwate prefecture [via]

Decorated gasholder in Japan -- Decorated gastank in Japan --
Bunbuku Chagama tanuki -- Gunma prefecture [via] // Origami cranes -- Mie prefecture [via]

Gas holder art in Japan --
Japanese irises -- Niigata [via]

Gas tank art in Japan --
Watermelon -- Takizawa, Iwate prefecture [via]

Decorated gasholder in Japan --
Godai-chan (tourism mascot for the city of Kashihara) -- Nara prefecture [via]

Decorated gastank in Japan --
Kōfu, Yamanashi prefecture [via]

Decorated gas holder in Japan --
Kintarō -- Saitama [via]

Decorated gas tank in Japan --
Flowers and butterflies -- Niigata prefecture [via]

Decorated gasholder in Japan --
Artist's conception of Nintendo Kirby tanks [via]

Fake vintage Japanese ad mascots

01 Mar 2011

Argentina-based artist Juan Molinet has created a series of fictional Japanese ads featuring retro-style characters.

Fake vintage Japanese ad character by Juan Molinet --
Osaka's Marshmellow Kid

Fake vintage Japanese ad character by Juan Molinet --
Nagoya Sweet Salami Co.

Fake vintage Japanese ad character by Juan Molinet --
Sumitomo Calamari Ice Cream

Fake vintage Japanese ad character by Juan Molinet --
Cheesus by Hokama Good Cheese Co.

Fake vintage Japanese ad character by Juan Molinet --
Kyoto Seafood Processing Co.

Fake vintage Japanese ad character by Juan Molinet --
Satoyama Whistle Co.

Fake vintage Japanese ad character by Juan Molinet --
Hokaido Industrial Sushi Food Co.

[Link]

Photos: Costumed runners at Tokyo Marathon

28 Feb 2011

Some 36,000 runners took part in the 2011 Tokyo Marathon yesterday, including a number of people in costume. Here are a few photos. [Via: Fuzz and Fur, jimgris, Jet Daisuke, Long, hashiee]

Costumed runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011 --
Tentacled one [Photo by: Fuzz and Fur]

Costumed runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011 --
Usavich and Darth Vader [Photo by: jimgris]

Costumed runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011 --
Doraemon [Photo by: urasimaru]

Costumed runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011 --
Kappa [Photo by: jimgris]

Costumed runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011 --
Jesus [Photo by: jimgris]

Costumed runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011 --
Kinnikuman [Photo by: Jet Daisuke]

Costumed runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011 --
Frog [Photo by: Fuzz and Fur]

See more photos of costumed runners »

Evolta mascot robot walking from Tokyo to Kyoto

22 Sep 2010

As a publicity stunt to demonstrate the durability of Evolta batteries, Panasonic's mascot robot is hiking the historic 500-kilometer (300-mi) Tōkaidō Road from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Evolta robot -- Evolta robot --
Evolta World Challenge III: Kyoto or bust! -- Photos via Sankei News

The Evolta humanoid, whose new design is meant to resemble an ancient highway traveler pulling a two-wheeled cart, measures 17 centimeters (7 in) tall and 40 centimeters (16 in) long. Constructed mostly of lightweight plastic, carbon fiber and titanium, the robot weighs about 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs). It is powered by 12 AA batteries and operated by remote control, and it can travel at a rate of 3 to 5 kilometers per hour (2-3 mph). If all goes according to schedule, the robot will complete the journey on December 10, after 49 days of walking.

Tokaido route --
On the 500-km Tōkaidō Road from September 23 to November 10, 2010

The Evolta robot is no stranger to endurance challenges. In May 2008 the battery-powered mascot climbed a 530-meter (1,740-ft) rope suspended from a Grand Canyon cliff, and in August 2009 it drove non-stop for 24 hours around the Le Mans race circuit, covering a distance of 23.7 kilometers (14.8 mi). Each feat earned the robot a Guinness World Record.

Evolta robot -- Evolta robot --
Evolta robot at Grand Canyon (2008) // Evolta robot at Le Mans (2009)

The current and previous versions of the humanoid were created by renowned roboticist Tomotaka Takahashi, founder of Kyoto University's Robo-Garage. The new robot features a hamster wheel-like design to facilitate movement over uneven surfaces, as well as a handcart that holds batteries. The batteries will be recharged once per day throughout the course of the journey.

Evolta robot --
Artist rendition of Evolta robot on Tōkaidō Road (2010)

The 500-kilometer (300-mi) Tōkaidō Road, which runs between Nihonbashi bridge in Tokyo and Sanjō Ōhashi bridge in Kyoto, served as Japan's most important transport artery during the Edo period. During its heyday in the 17th to 19th centuries, the road was one of the busiest highways in the world. In those days, it typically took travelers about 10 to 12 days to walk the route, weather permitting.

Tokaido road, 1865 --
Tōkaidō Road photographed by Felice Beato in 1865

In the 17th century, the Tokugawa shogunate set up 53 post stations along the route, where travelers could find food, shelter and other services. These stations are perhaps best known through "The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō" series of woodblock prints by the great ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige, who first traveled the route in 1832.

Shinagawa on the Tokaido, ukiyo-e print by Hiroshige --
Shinagawa, the first station on the Tōkaidō Road (print by Hiroshige)

The landscape has changed a great deal since then, and many of the old post stations have developed into towns and cities. The Evolta robot plans to pass through at least one station per day during the trek.

All of the action is being broadcast live on Ustream (morning to afternoon, Japan time).


The robot will also be tweeting its progress (in Japanese) at @evoltatoukaidou.

[Link: Evolta World Challenge III]

99 cute trademarked characters from Japan

03 Aug 2010

Here is a collection of 99 cute characters summoned from the depths of the Japanese Figure Trademark Database. These friendly critters appear in a variety of settings ranging from company logos and promotional materials to product packaging and advertising.

Cute Japanese character -- Kawaii Japanese character -- Cute Japanese mascot --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Kawaii Japanese character --

Cute Japanese promotional character -- Cute Japanese idol -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese logo -- Kawaii Japanese promotional character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Kawaii Japanese character -- Cute Japanese promotional mascot --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese promotional character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese idol -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese logo -- Kawaii Japanese promotional character -- Cute Japanese mascot --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese promotional character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese promotional character --

Cute Japanese promotional character -- Kawaii Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese idol -- Cute Japanese mascot --

Cute Japanese logo -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese promotional character -- Kawaii Japanese promotional character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese idol -- Cute Japanese promotional mascot --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese promotional character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Kawaii Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese logo -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese logo -- Cute Japanese idol -- Cute Japanese mascot --

Cute Japanese promotional character -- Kawaii Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese logo -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

Cute Japanese promotional character -- Kawaii Japanese character -- Cute Japanese promotional mascot --

Cute Japanese logo -- Cute Japanese character -- Cute Japanese character --

This collection represents only a small portion of the figurative trademarks found in the Japanese Figure Trademark Database. To explore the contents, go to the search page and plug in the Vienna Classification category numbers for the type of figure you would like to see.

The database does not provide explanatory information about the characters, nor does it indicate the names of the companies that employ them.

[Thanks to Japanese Trademarks for pointing the way!]

Photos: CEATEC Japan 2009

07 Oct 2009

Hundreds of companies have gathered to showcase their latest technology at CEATEC Japan 2009, the largest consumer electronics trade show in Asia, which is being held at Makuhari Messe near Tokyo until October 10. Here are a few photos from the event.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Nissan EPORO robots [+]

Nissan stole the show with their demonstration of the EPORO robot concept car, which travels in groups and is designed to avoid obstacles and collisions by mimicking the behavior of fish. [More]

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
NTT DoCoMo's eye-controlled music player [+]

NTT DoCoMo showcased a set of earphones that enable the wearer to control a music player simply by shifting his or her eyes. Electrodes embedded in the earphones detect the subtle changes in eye movement.

CEATEC Japan 2009 -- CEATEC Japan 2009 --
TOUCH WOOD: Front [+] // Back [+]

NTT DoCoMo's TOUCH WOOD prototype handset is made from the surplus wood of trees culled during forest-thinning operations. [More]

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
A model wears special glasses to promote Sony's 3D Full HDTV displays [+]

Sony's booth featured a variety of new 3D Full HDTV displays, and the accompanying presentation starred a pair of models wearing special 3D glasses.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
A model wears special glasses to promote Sony's 3D Full HDTV displays [+]

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Vaio concept [+]

Sony also displayed a few concept items incorporating their flexible display technology, such as this future Vaio notebook.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Panasonic 3D Full HDTV PDP [+]

Panasonic exhibited their latest 3D display technology, which includes 50" 3D Full HDTV plasma displays.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Sekai Camera [+]

Sekai Camera, an augmented reality social tagging application for the iPhone, was on display at the Yamaha booth. [More]

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Squid robot 1 [+]

Representatives from Hakodate showcased a pair of squid robots designed to attract attention to their area. The robots are part of an unorthodox campaign that includes some entertaining tourism promotion videos. [More]

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Squid robot 2 [+]

Fujitsu exhibited a selection of interesting concept phones submitted by participants in the mobile phone design competition.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
F-Circle: Fujitsu concept phone [+]

The F-Circle phone, designed by Yuji Ito, has a "timeless" appearance that departs from the typical rectangular mobile shape.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
FOLD-A-PHONE: Fujitsu concept phone [+]

Designed by Hanna Sahlen and Sachiko Munakata, the FOLD-A-PHONE is a paper-thin handset that can be folded into a compact shape. The design was inspired by the "Miura-fold" origami method.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
chamelephone: Fujitsu concept phone [+]

The chamelephone, designed by Hiroyuki Tabuchi, has a body that changes its appearance to match the texture of the surface it is placed on.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
KAORA: Fujitsu concept phone [+]

Designed by Wataru Igarashi, the KAORA concept features a curved design that can assume various configurations to suit different uses.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Amoeba Phone: Fujitsu concept phone [+]

The Amoeba Phone (designed by Kwak Yeon), whose entire surface is a touchscreen, has a concave shape designed to fit the user's face when they are talking on the phone.

CEATEC Japan 2009 --
Sento-kun [+]

Sento-kun, the official mascot character for next year's Commemorative Events of the 1,300th Anniversary of the Nara-Heijokyo Capital, was on hand to promote investment in Nara prefecture.

Alien squid vs. giant robots in tourism videos

26 Mar 2009

Ika robot vs. Tower robot --

The city of Hakodate, Japan has been producing official tourism videos unlike any you've ever seen before -- action-packed affairs starring famous landmarks as giant robots that battle a runaway mechanical squid hijacked by vengeful aliens.

The first video begins with an interesting factoid: According to a survey of 100 aliens, Hakodate is the number one city they would most like to invade.


+ Video 1

The invaders here are alien cephalopods from the planet Ikaaru, who seek revenge on the people of Hakodate for eating too much squid. The aliens hijack an enlarged version of Hakodate's tourism mascot -- a mechanical squid named "Ikabo," which was built by Future University-Hakodate (FUN) in 2007 -- and send it on a rampage through the city.

Angry alien squid from Ikaaru --
Angry alien squid from Ikaaru: "All they eat is squid!"

A pair of giant robots are called into action to protect Hakodate's precious historical buildings from destruction. Hakodate's Goryōkaku Tower transforms into a deadly fighting machine, while an enormous Chūkū Dogū (a treasured 3,200-year-old hollow clay figurine unearthed in Hokkaidō in 1975) awakens from a deep slumber.

Chuku Dogu --
Giant Chūkū Dogū wakes up

The city's star-shaped Goryōkaku fortress also joins the fight. After coming under attack, the fortress rises up from the flames and takes off like a giant spaceship.


+ Video 2

In the second video, the battle between the hijacked Ikabo squid robot and the Goryōkaku Tower robot rages on into winter.


+ Video 3

In the final video, the fierce battle appears to end as the Goryōkaku ship delivers a deadly blow to the Ikaaru spacecraft. But the fight has really only just begun -- another fleet of alien ships is fast approaching.

Hakodate appears to be under full-scale alien attack and its survival is in question. Visit Hakodate soon... before it's too late.

Decorated trains in Japan

02 Dec 2008

Of the countless trains running on Japan's 20,000-kilometer (12,000-mile) rail network, a few are decorated with images of anime and manga characters, colorful ads, and designs by notable artists. Here is a small sample.

Decorated train --
Pikachu on Seto line, Aichi prefecture

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Galaxy Express 999 train, Furusato-Ginga line, Hokkaido [Photo]

Characters from Leiji Matsumoto's "Galaxy Express 999" anime/manga adorn this train that used to run on the Furusato-Ginga line in Hokkaido. The train line closed down in 2006.

Decorated train --
Galaxy Express 999 train, Furusato-Ginga line, Hokkaido [More photos]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Pink ninja train, Iga line, Mie prefecture [Photo]

Matsumoto also created a series of ninja train designs for the Iga line in Mie prefecture, the birthplace of ninjutsu.

Decorated train --
Blue ninja train, Iga line, Mie prefecture [Photo]

Here's some video of the ninja trains cruising the Mie countryside:

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Spiderman train, JR Yumesaki line, Osaka [Photo]

* * * * *

Some trains on the Kakogawa line in Hy?go prefecture feature designs by graphic artist Tadanori Yokoo. Yokoo was born in Hy?go.

Decorated train --
Yokoo's eyeball train, Kakogawa line, Hy?go prefecture [More]

Decorated train --
Yokoo's waterfall train, Kakogawa line, Hy?go prefecture [More]

Decorated train --
Yokoo's galactic travel train, Kakogawa line, Hy?go prefecture [Photo]

Decorated train --
Yokoo's Y-junction train, Kakogawa line, Hy?go prefecture [More]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Doraemon train, Seikan Tunnel Tappi Shak? Line, Hokkaido [Photo]

This Doraemon train runs back and forth through the Seikan Tunnel, an undersea railway connecting Honshu and Hokkaido.

Decorated train --
More Doraemon trains in Hokkaido

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Wild boar decoration, Eizan line, Kyoto prefecture [Photo]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Kitar? train, Tottori line, Tottori prefecture [More]

Trains on the Tottori line in Tottori prefecture are decorated with characters from Shigeru Mizuki's "GeGeGe no Kitar?" manga/anime series. Mizuki was born in Tottori prefecture.

Decorated train --
Medama-oyaji on Kitar? train, Tottori line [More]

Decorated train --
Kitar? train, Tottori line [Photo]

Decorated train --
Ceiling inside Kitar? train, Tottori line [More]

Decorated train --
Neko-musume train, Tottori line [Photo: Rie Nakaya]

Decorated train --
Ceiling inside Neko-musume train, Tottori line [Photo: Rie Nakaya]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Chunichi Dragons subway, Nagoya [Photo]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Ninja Hattori-kun train, Himi line, Toyama prefecture [Photo]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Ultraman trains, Tokyu Toyoko line, Tokyo [More]

These trains on the Tokyu Toyoko line in Tokyo were decorated to commemorate Ultraman's 40th anniversary and promote a movie.

Decorated train --
Ultraman train, Tokyo Tokyo line, Tokyo. [Photo: sanchome]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Meiji Milk Chocolate ad (Enoshima) // Thomas train (Kyoto prefecture)

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Ad for Tokimeki Memorial 3, Tokyo-Arakawa line, Tokyo [More]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Cyborg 009 train, Senseki line, Miyagi prefecture [Photo]

Miyagi prefecture is the birthplace of manga/anime artist Ishinomori Sh?tar?, whose works include Cyborg 009 and the Kamen Rider Series. Some of his characters adorn trains on the Senseki line.

Decorated train --
Himitsu Sentai Goranger train, Senseki line, Miyagi prefecture [More]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Gunma Safari Park ad train, Joshin line, Gunma prefecture [Photo]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Anpanman train, JR Shikoku, Shikoku [Photo, More]

Yanase Takashi, creator of the Anpanman anime series, is from Kochi prefecture in Shikoku. The JR Shikoku railway network operates some Anpanman-themed trains.

Decorated train --
Anpanman train interior, JR Shikoku, Shikoku [More]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
One-Piece ad train, Enoshima Electric Railway [More]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Pichon-kun on the Skytrain, Bangkok, Thailand [Photo]

Japanese characters can occasionally be found on trains in other countries. This photo shows Pichon-kun, the robot mascot of Japanese air-conditioning manufacturer Daikin, on the side of the Skytrain in Bangkok, Thailand.

* * * * *

Decorated train --
YKK train ad, Yamanote line, Tokyo [Photo]

* * * * *

Decorated train --
Pokemon on Tohoku Shinkansen [Photo]