Unofficial Mascot ‘Funasshii’ Elected As Japan’s No.1 Mascot

Unofficial mascot "Funasshii" is elected as Japan's most popular mascot.

Unofficial mascot “Funasshii” is elected as Japan’s most popular mascot.

Funasshii, the increasingly official “unofficial” mascot of Funabashi, Chiba, has been awarded first prize in a “Regional Mascot General Election” held in Tokyo today. This is a further example of the popularity of mascots in Japan, where even the Prime Minister has been turned into a cartoon version of himself.

Supposedly a “pear fairy”, Funashi has been one of Japan’s most controversial “yuru-kyara” mascots, since first appearing in 2011, due to the fact that the character was not endorsed by the city of Funabashi, nor any tourism organisations. However, following several eccentric performances on Japanese television, Funasshii has finally won the hearts of the Japanese people.

From NHK:

Funasshii Wins First Prize At “Regional Mascot General Election”

A “Regional Mascot General Election” to determine the most popular of the so-called regional mascots, which are also referred to as “yuru-kyara”, was held in Tokyo today, and it was “Funasshii” or Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture who took the first prize.

The event was held by the Japan Department Stores Association, and in the conference hall of a major department store adjacent to Tokyo Station, seven characters made an appearance, having been selected from a previous vote out of the 480 characters who had applied from all over Japan. The characters selected were: “Melon Bear” from Yubari, Hokkaido; “Gakuto-kun” from Kōriyama in Fukushima Prefecture; “Funasshi” from Funabashi, Chiba; “Okazaemon”, from Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture; “Ishikirin” from Higashiosaka, Osaka; “Koto-chan” from Takamatsu, Kagawa, and “King Iisa” from Isa, Kagoshima.

After each character had publicized their local area and given their final plea to be elected, the results of the voting were announced, with “Funasshii” being selected as “top of the regional mascots”.

“Funasshi” is not an a character that is official or officially recognised by the local area council; rather Funasshii acts as an individual. However, with agile movements that are not seen in other characters, and also by having a high profile, Funasshii has gained popularity.

Furthermore, in second place there was “Okazaemon”, while “Koto-chan” took third place.

Still, characters like Kumamoto’s “Kumamon” that had previously won similar competitions and gained popularity did apparently not apply for this competition.

The three characters awarded prizes will participate in events in department stores all over Japan from this autumn, and the Japan Department Stores Association expect that they will play a role in increasing sales through publicising different regions of Japan.

On winning the top prize, “Funasshii” said “Thank you peaaaar! [Funasshi tends to add “nasshi” to the end of sentences, which sounds similar to “pear”] When I started this alone, there was no one to help me out, but as I carried on doing what I do, my fans increased, and so now here I am, number one. I’m so happy”.

Murata Soichi, chair of the committe for sales promotion of the Japan Department Store Association, said that “We’d like the regional mascots to go around Japanese department stores, and we’d like everyone to come in and enjoy shopping, and to bring back the good old days of the department store”.

Below is a gallery of all seven finalists. Who’s your favourite?

Funasshii in action (skip to 0:58)

Comments from Twitter:

れん(クズ):

When it comes to yuru-kyara, I basically only know Funasshii.

なまにせ:

Never mind, Okazaemon!

菫華董薫(キンカトウクン):

I can’t support Funasshii. It personifies this LOL culture where anything goes if it’s funny. Don’t encourage stuff like that. I just don’t get those who find Funasshii funny.

るきあ:

Good choices for no.1 and no.2. Unofficial mascots really try their best. Mind you, if Kumamon had been there he’d have won — guess they kidnapped him…

KDP(かどぴー):

Funasshii was a really strong contender! But Koto-chan put up a good fight.

Daisuke.TNI:

Congrats!

mica:

Guess the strength of these unofficial yuru-kyara lies in their freedom to do whatever they want…I like how agile they are (´▽`)

大阪卵かけごはん専門店美味卯のうめ:

I wanted Ishikirin to do his best…

オタク趣婦@手芸に全力投球!!!:

Okazaemon is kinda spooky…(´・Д・)」

福田晶平:

I want Chiba prefecture to take this as an opportunity to propose that Funasshii become the official mascot, and then I want Funasshii to tell ‘em where to stick it.

きりしまにしぐち[拠点]:

※ A character that is “not officially recognised” by the local authorities is number one in Japan. Wonder if, despite that, Funabashi will still “ignore” Funasshii…it was a remarkable achievement that “King Iisa” from our prefecture stayed in the competition until the very end.

189.9km:

When you see illustrations of Koto-chan it’s sooooo cute, but that costume…it’s a bit scary (‘・_・`)

くぽんとぼこちょ:

And so we’ve come to this….

ぽっぽ:

You did it Funasshii!!!! Congraaaaaaaaaaaaaats ٩(๑>∀<๑)۶

nozomi:

Just this morning I saw someone with a Funasshii charm on their cell phone. It’s really popular.

ふるーてぃ:

Yippeeeeee *\(^o^)/*

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  • Brett

    Beth I know this was a popular story, but I don’t get this mascot stuff… What is the Japanese fascination with mascots about?

    • besudesu

      Ah that’s a really good question, Brett. I mean, generally having a mascot for something — anything — is popular in Japan. I’m sure there will be someone out there who can give us some academic argument as to why Japan favours cute/crazy/downright strange characters to represent things. But when I’m living in Japan and I see these characters, they (weirdly) do just brighten my day. So maybe it’s as simple as enjoying the contrast between a slightly restrictive daily life and something a bit fun and more than a bit childish…

      Anyway, destroy my “reputation” though it may, I’m a fan of Funasshii. If only because whoever is in that suit is a hero. They just woke up one day and decided to become Funasshii. That takes some guts.

    • Ultra_Kraken

      Every place in Japan is “famous” for something, usually some food product, and I imagine mascots are a natural extension of that (representing one’s home area). Couple that with the yura-kyara boom of sligthly odd and amateurish but cute characters and you get things like Funashishii.

  • com-chan

    What about Com-chan!???

  • lonetrey / Dan

    Eh, given the limited choices I probably would’ve voted for Funasshii as well, or Ishikirin. Not sure why the selection was so… “meh”.

  • mukanis

    WHO’S THAT POKEMON?!

  • The Critic

    Just proves Japan is just a fu**’ed up place living on it’s own fantasy world. TEPCO just admitted that they are leaking radiation into Pacific Ocean daily and they can’t control it, yet these morons are talking about some fu**ing mascots? Give me a fu**ing break, what kind of a society does this while their country burns while their PM plays the fiddle? Where are all the calls for heads to roll? Where are all the concerns for Japan, for humanity? Where are all the calls for the government to do something, the responsibilities that they bear? Where all the debates within the society for serious issues? Oh yes, why debate when it’s all just convenient to just sweep all the problems into the closet by saying they’re all done by evil foreign countries!

    • bluesummers

      Ok.

    • y.m.

      the Japanese can live however the fuck they want. you got a problem with radiation, you try doing something.

    • mukanis

      Dude, I think you’re high on drugs.

  • Mighty曹

    I prefer the Condom mascot.

  • anon

    There’s something not quite right with Okasaemon being a mascot. All the mascots are flashy and cute and then its…surprise cat face! with bowl haircut! Okasaemon!

  • Frogy

    Okasaemon the best tbh

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