Tag: ‘Mascot’

Japanese blood mascots

21 Nov 2008

They may be cute, but they thirst for blood. These official mascot characters are tasked with recruiting blood donors in Japan.

Kenketsu-chan --

Japan's most well-known blood donation mascot is Kenketsu-chan ("blood donation girl"), a little pixie with big shiny drops of blood for ears. Kenketsu-chan is the official blood donation mascot of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which maintains a website devoted to the character.

Kenketsu-chan --

From the site, we know that Kenketsu-chan's ears shrink when she runs low on blood, but return to their original size when people donate. We also know that she comes from Tasuke Island (Help Island), which features a heart-shaped spring at its center. The spring shoots forth rainbows that carry Kenketsu-chan to wherever people need blood.

As the Japanese government's official blood donation mascot, Kenketsu-chan is often seen working alongside the nation's numerous regional mascots.

Kokoron-chan --

The blood donation mascot of Iwate prefecture is Kokoron-chan, whose name is derived from the word "kokoro" (heart). She was designed to evoke an image of peace, warm-heartedness and blood.

Kibichii-chan, Yuton-kun, OtasukeKetta-kun --
Kibichii-chan // Yūton-kun // Otasuke Ketta-kun

Kibichii-chan, who has been employed by Fukushima prefecture since 1996, takes her name from "kibitaki" (Narcissus Flycatcher, a songbird indigenous to the region) and "chi" (blood). Yūton-kun is from Kyoto, and Otasuke-ketta-kun is from Hokkaidō.

Aipii, Chiipitto --
Aipii // Chiipitto

Aipii works the blood drives in Ehime prefecture, and Chiipitto -- whose name is a play on the words "chi" (blood) and "kyūpitto" (Cupid) -- works in Hiroshima prefecture.

Ken-chan and Chii-chan, CrossKid-kun --
Ken-chan and Chii-chan // CrossKid-kun

Ken-chan and Chii-chan, whose names mean "donation girl" and "blood girl," serve the town of Iwaki in Fukushima prefecture. Standing side by side, they form the hiragana character for "i" (い), which stands for Iwaki and inochi (life). Akita prefecture's CrossKid-kun (Kurosukiddo-kun) is a cedar tree-shaped boy with a red cross on his chest. His name is a play on the words "cross," "kurosugi" (a type of cedar) and "kid."

Ebio-kun --

Ebio-kun, whose name is pronounced "A-B-O" (like the blood types), is the official blood donation mascot of Saitama prefecture.

Buratto-kun, Chii-tan --
Buratto-kun // Chii-tan

Buratto-kun, whose name means "blood boy," is employed by Aomori prefecture. Chii-tan, or "blood girl," works in Shiga prefecture.

Otasuke Kenta, Dr. Blood --
Otasuke Kenta // Dr. Blood

Osaka prefecture uses two mascot characters to attract donors -- Otasuke Kenta and Dr. Blood.

Blood-kun --

Finally, Blood-kun is the official blood donation character of Niigata prefecture. According to his website, Blood-kun carries a backpack full of blood. He has short legs but can run fast when hurrying to deliver blood, and his red hat turns into a flashing warning light in an emergency. The spiral on his stomach represents blood circulation. He appreciates it when people offer to fill up his backpack.

Sento-kun’s creator auctions bronze sculpture

29 Sep 2008

Bronze Sento-kun statue by Yabuuchi Satoshi --

Sculptor Satoshi Yabuuchi is auctioning a limited-edition bronze statue of Sento-kun, the popular but controversial official mascot he designed for the Commemorative Events of the 1,300th Anniversary of the Nara-Heijokyo Capital (the upcoming festival marking 1,300 years since Nara's establishment as Japan's capital in 710 AD). The current bid on this 30.5-cm tall sculpture -- one of only 130 created -- is 185,000 yen ($1,750).

[Via: Yahoo! Auctions]

Rice rebranded with ‘moe’

19 Sep 2008

Moe rice bag --

Bad news for rice in Japan -- the recent tainted rice scandal has dulled the public's appetite for the staple, and kids these days are consuming less than ever. In an attempt to revive interest in the grain, agricultural cooperative JA Ugo (based in Ugo, Akita prefecture) is enlisting the help of a sweet, doe-eyed anime rice farmer girl.

Designed by eroge illustrator Aoi Nishimata, the original moe character will appear on 10,000 bags of locally grown "Akitakomachi" rice, which will go on sale September 22. Some Tokyo department stores have reportedly said the bags seem out of place on their shelves, but JA Ugo believes young people will embrace the design. The moe rice will undoubtedly sell well, provided it's free from mold and pesticide.

In recent weeks, consumers have been shocked to learn that moldy rice tainted with the pesticide methamidophos was served to thousands of people at schools, day-care centers and nursing homes and included in a variety of commercial food products. The tainted rice was originally imported from China for use as a raw material in industrial products such as glue, but was instead distributed as food. There have been no reports of people getting sick from the tainted rice.

[Source: Asahi // Image: Aoi Nishimata]

Docomodake’s last supper

29 May 2008

Appetizing dishes of NTT DoCoMo's mushroom mascot were served up in artist Rika Eguchi's "Last Supper" installation at last year's "How to Cook Docomodake" exhibition in New York. Photos by Marius Watz.

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --

Last Supper, by Rika Eguchi --
Smothered in special sauce

More scrumptious photos at watz's Flickr photostream.

Evolta robot climbs Grand Canyon cliff

26 May 2008

Evolta climbs Grand Canyon -- On May 24, a 17-centimeter tall, 130-gram Panasonic Evolta battery mascot robot scaled a 500-meter cliff at the Grand Canyon in a publicity stunt to showcase the endurance of the Evolta AA alkaline battery, which the Guinness Book of World Records recently recognized as the longest-lasting of its kind. Powered by a pair of Evoltas, the robot hoisted itself up a 530-meter length of rope suspended next to the cliff, reaching the top after a grueling 6 hours and 45 minutes.

[Source: Kobe Shimbun]

Vote for your favorite Nara mascot

20 May 2008

Sentokun --

Ever since his unveiling in February, Sento-kun, the official mascot character for the Commemorative Events of the 1,300th Anniversary of the Nara-Heijokyo Capital, has garnered widespread criticism from the media, religious groups and the blogosphere. A Buddhist child monk with a rack of deer antlers sprouting from his head, Sento-kun is supposed to evoke the image of Nara's rich Buddhist history and the wild (but tame) deer that roam freely around town. But some citizens have expressed anger at officials for shutting them out of the decision-making process and wasting 5 million yen (about $50,000) of taxpayer money on an ugly mascot, and some Buddhist groups are reportedly upset with the inappropriate use of a religious image.

In response to the fiasco, a group of Nara-area designers called the "Creators Forum Yamato" have voluntarily organized an independent design contest to come up with a mascot that more closely represents the will of the people and the true spirit of Nara. After receiving 619 submissions from the general public (some from as far away as New York and Paris), organizers have narrowed the pool to 30 candidates and are encouraging the public to vote online.

Here are the candidates on the ballot...

Nara character ballot --

To vote, go to the online ballot, select the button under your favorite character, and hit the confirmation button at the bottom of the screen. Then hit the confirmation button on the next screen. The polls are open until May 25. As of this writing, nearly 15,000 ballots have been cast.

As a representative of the citizens of Nara prefecture, the winning mascot will work side-by-side with Sento-kun to make the anniversary event a success.

The Commemorative Events of the 1,300th Anniversary of Nara Heijokyo Capital will be held in Nara prefecture in 2010 to commemorate the 1,300th anniversary of the founding of Heijokyo (now known as Nara), the capital of Japan from 710 to 784 A.D. The large-scale, year-long international project is expected to attract 15 million visitors.

[Vote here]

UPDATE: The votes are in and the winner is Manto-kun (#8).

Kirichimpo: Phallic promotional mascot

26 Feb 2008

Kirichimpo --

Fresh on the Akita prefecture promotional gimmick scene is a unique and decidedly male mascot modeled after the region's famed kiritampo grilled rice cake skewers. "Kirichimpo" (kiri means "cut" and chimpo is slang for the male organ), a lovey-eyed kiritampo stick with a conspicuous protuberance dangling from its lower end, is the brainchild of Fruru Co., Ltd., an Akita-based souvenir designer and wholesaler.

Mamemokkori and Marimokkori -- The company came up with the idea for Kirichimpo last year after witnessing the far-reaching success of Marimokkori, a happy, well-endowed green monster mascot from Hokkaido, whose name is a play on the words marimo (a type of giant algae ball found in Lake Akan) and mokkori ("erection"). Marimokkori's popularity extends far beyond Hokkaido's shores, to as far away as Chiba, the home of his younger peanut-headed cousin named Mamemokkori (mame means "bean"), and Tokyo, where mounds of the popular Marimokkori can be found inside UFO Catcher claw vending machines at game centers.

While Kirichimpo has yet to rise to Marimokkori status, it appears to be enjoying a measure of success. Last year's initial shipment of 6,000 Kirichimpo keychains sold out in a matter of months. And with demand still strong, the company is rolling out a Kirichimpo ear pick and other new gimmicks, which are soon to appear at souvenir shops and train stations throughout Akita prefecture at a price of 350 yen ($3) each.

[Source: Akita Keizai Shimbun]