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Five “Yuru Kyara” MascotsNippon.com Staff

Japan is home to an astounding number of promotional mascots, or yuru kyara, cute (and sometimes not-so-cute) costumed characters created to promote everything from prefectures and cities to products and services. Since 2010, the top dog (or other creature) of the yuru kyara world has been determined each year at the annual Yuru Kyara Grand Prix, of which the inaugural champion was Shiga Prefectur…

The 2014 Kanji of the Year: “Zei” (Tax)Nippon.com Staff

For lovers of Asian languages, December 12 each year carries a far greater significance than simply the opening of another door on the advent calendar. Since 1995, this has been the date chosen by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society for the announcement of the Kanji of the Year, the single character deemed most evocative of the events of the last 12 months. This year’s winning kanji is 税 (ze…

2013 Kanji of the Year: “Rin” Takes the RingMichael Schauerte

A little while back we took a look at the key words of 2013. But there is another lexical popularity contest that takes place at the end of the year—the annual Kanji of the Year award, sponsored by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society, the organization that puts out the Kanji Kentei examinations. The results were announced on December 12 at Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple (and UNESCO World H…

Fluffy Mascots on the Loose in SaitamaMichael Schauerte

Japan is home to an astounding number of promotional mascots, or yuru kyara. In late November a “summit” held in Hanyū, Saitama Prefecture, brought together over 200 mascots, tens of thousands of fans, and one puzzled American trying to make sense of it all.

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