“Yuru-kyara” (also spelled “Yuru-chara”) are Japan’s cute (kawaii), and sometimes creepy-cute (kimo-kawaii), character mascots.
What are "yuru-kyara" for?
Yuru-kyara are used to promote anything from cities, to businesses, to events, to.... anything you might want to promote. Yuru-kyara are hugely popular. Successful yuru-kyara can bring enormous amounts of attention to the things they promote.
What does it take to become a yuru-kyara?
Yuru-kyara should be cute and cuddly, and a bit goofy. They should visually represent the place or thing they promote. Also, there should be a connection between their name, and the place or thing they promote.
”Kumamon" is the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, in Kyūshū, one of Japan's four main islands. "Kuma" means "bear". Here's a video of Kumamon's promotional tour to Melbourne, Australia.
"Funassyi" is the mascot of Funabashi City, near Tōkyō. The name comes from "Funabashi" plus "nashi", because Funabashi is known for pears (nashi). Funassyi's a little bit out there!
In this video, Japan resident John Daub goes to the Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix, where yuru-kyara compete for popularity, including yuru-kyara sumō wrestling. This video is pretty long, but informative.
Click here to learn the names of the parts of the face, so you can create and describe your own yuru-kyara.