Land of Character

PingMag is a bilingual magazine. So, when I’m translating, I often think stuff like, “this point of view is new to Japanese people,” or “hmm, non-Japanese readers will probably find this topic more interesting,” or something like that. And today’s topic must be totally familiar with those who live in Japan; the bizarre, character and mascot culture in Japan. Once, Uleshka described Japan as a land of mascots in her article, but it must be weird for people from accross the sea to run into cute mascots or short, deformed animal characters all over the place in this country.

You bump into fancy elephant characters in front of pharmacy. Looking up in the sky, you see the aircraft with Pokemon characters and insects. Even the Tokyo Metropolitan Police has its own character, Pipo and his supporting family.

Finally, we have a cute characters for almost all the big events such as EXPO 2005 Aichi, Japan. Every time an event takes place, I see newspaper ad which asks the public to help design characters for the event. Being in Japan for such a long time, I took it for granted, but this might be quite strange to you. I heard that our love for the characters can be traced back to ancient belief and animism. Maybe our DNA tells us to love mascots?

I only lived in Japan and US, so I don’t know if other country has similar trend. How about other asian countries? Europe? If you know anything, please let us know!


Written by Kyoko

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    Excellent. As an aspiring illustrator this article was really inspirational. Thank you Ping Mag. I love your site. :)

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    Very interesting article. I write from Sweden and the mascot culture here is not so very well developed. I believe dentists and pharmaceuths here think that people might see them as not seriouse enough if they use mascots. But I think I can see a slight tendency of change. Childrens things, for example toothpaste, have for a while had their own mascots, and the young people groowing up thith mascots now like to use them theirselves. Young events, like concerts, sometimes have their own mascots today. I hope we will seee more of it in the future.

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