Heisei in Perspective: "Yurukyara" Local Mascots at Crossroads after Booming

Society

Tokyo, March 2 (Jiji Press)--"Yurukyara" local mascots in Japan attracted great attention during the country's current Heisei era, which started in 1989.

Kumamon, the black bear mascot of the southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto, and other popular yurukyara have contributed to reviving regional economies and helped local companies advertise their products and services.

After the boom, however, they are now at crossroads in their roles, pundits said.

The word yurukyara, literally meaning "loose characters," was created by illustrator Jun Miura. After Miura produced a yurukyara show in 2002, public recognition of such local mascots started growing steadily.

The number of yurukyara increased dramatically after Hikonyan, the white cat mascot of the city of Hikone in the western prefecture of Shiga, gained popularity following its debut in 2006.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press