Here's another first-time post to this blog, this time under 'Wacky Japan', which will basically highlight certain aspects of Japanese culture I find interesting and possibly bizarre. The photo of Funassyi used in the WJ page was found off Google, correct attribution unknown.
For those of you who've already heard about the 'yuru-kyara' trend that's going wild in Japan right now, then this won't be news to you. For those who have yet to hear about them: buckle up for a crazy ride.
'Yuru-kyara' or 'laid-back characters' are mascots with quirky names, outfits and mannerisms. Some of them are representative of a prefecture or area. I was born in Asahikawa, which is home to a famous zoo. Most people stop by the 'azarashi' or seal exhibit, where they can see the chubby creatures swim through a glass tube over and over. Hence the reason Asa-pi - Asahikawa's 'yuru-kyara' - has a general resemblance to a seal. He also has Asahikawa Bridge on his shirt and ramen hanging from his arms.
So, let's be honest. Asa-pi makes no sense, but I mean ... none of them really do when you stop to ponder deeply about it.
My favorite character is Funassyi (I have yet to figure out the correct spelling of its name), which is not exactly Earth-shattering since it was voted Japan's #1 mascot last year, but can any of us be blamed? Funassyi is a dancing pear that wiggles and jiggles madly as it shouts out nonsensical catchphrases in an alarming voice. It's absolutely riveting to watch. Funassyi's even hung out with internationally famous people. I don't know who to be more jealous of in that photo.
It's also been announced recently that Funassyi now has a younger sibling, Funagoro, which has been met with some skepticism. I've yet to see Funagoro in action so I'll give the newly picked pear the benefit of the doubt. It'll probably end up floundering in its brother's superior shadow before disappearing into obscurity, but like I said, I haven't seen Funagoro yet. Also, who decided we needed another adorable pear?
If you'd like to get a quick glimpse of Funassyi (I know you do), check out the video below. If you click CC, English subtitles will come up!
There isn't really much to say about 'yuru kyara' other than that they're great for PR and a good laugh. Some of the characters are unrecognizable and total mysteries but that's the beauty of 'yuru-kyara' - they're strange, unique, ridiculous. I think their creation and popularity say a lot about Japan's love of 'kawaii', silly things. I appreciate that love. We all need some leaping pears and dancing bears in our lives.
If you'd like to read up on 'yuru-kyara', you can find some articles here. Let me know what your favorite 'yuru-kyara' is!