Taking a leaf out of AKB48’s book, Hiroshima Prefectural government is emulating the populous idol group’s, now annual, “general election” , by polling the local population to find the prefecture’s most popular… cute mascot.
12 mascots or yuru-kyara created over the years have been selected to take part in the battle for the hearts of Hiroshima Prefecture residents. The winning kyara will be awarded a coveted postion on the committee overseeing the prefectures oshii! tourism campaign.
Meet the candidates
Adapi is based on Miyajima’s deer. He has a cute forelock modeled on a leaf from the prefectural tree, the maple (momiji), and bears the prefectural symbol on his chest. This little fella (apparently only 16cm tall) is the mascot of the Adapt Project [ja] which works to get residents involved in keeping their neighborhoods spick and span.
These three brothers represent private individuals, localities and the government, which if cooperate effectively, can bring about the realization of a “collaborative distaster prevention society”.
This little chap was created back at the dawn of the Heisei era to help convey the importance and the role of local taxes. According to his profile his age is a strictly kept secret and he has as many hobbies and interests as there are kinds of tax. Ah, bless.
Chiisuke-kun may look like a big-eyed softie, but he was created about 3 years ago to battle the bosouzoku bike gangs. Appropriately, he is based on the Cheetah and pledges that if he wins the election he will pursue the bosouzoku throughout Japan (though always strictly observing the speed limit one assumes).
Selected as the face of the major tourism campaign to accompany this year’s NHK taiga drama on the 12th Century Heike warlord famous for creating the Itsukushima Shrine we can see today and preventing the setting of the sun with nothing but a fan to allow work on the opening of the Ondo Strait to be completed on time.
An amalgam of bunka (culture) and kaki (oyster) this weird looking character was the mascot of the National Culture Festival held in Hiroshima in 2000. He has been pulling his weight since then as the mascot of the annual Prefectural Culture Festival. The juicy oyster sports a maple leaf on his head and the blue bit is formed from the character ‘ひ’ (‘hi’) for ‘Hi’roshima.
Mascot of the environmental information site Eco Hiroshima [ja] for nearly 10 years. Based on the rare and unique Miyajima Dragonfly.
This appropriately officious-looking deer entreats local residents to ‘think more seriously about crime!’ or in Japanese motto shikkari kangaeyou! Shika is of course the word for ‘deer’ – see what they did there with the name?
The most obvious use of the Prefectural tree goes to the police. Maple-kun is one of the older mascots and represents those friendly neighborhood police officers who rely upon our support and cooperation in their strenuous efforts to keep the peace.
Someone knocked up this guy in Microsoft Paint during their lunch hour to represent the Hiroshima’s forestry efforts [ja] Unable to think of a name, they threw a couple of extra vowels into the Japanese word for forest.
Yuppii represents the youth of Hiroshima. A lion with a sun for a mane he espouses the fostering of active and cheery youth and the warmth of human relationships and community ties.
It’s a tough call, I know. Luckily you have until June 25 to ponder your choice and cast your vote. You can vote on the Hiroshima Prefecture website here and on their Facebook Page here.