Posts Tagged ‘yuru kyara’

Funassyi — Japan’s favorite shrieking pear

Friday, May 15th, 2015

funassyi-pic

In a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the British comedian dove into the weird and excessive world of Japan’s yuru-kyara. During his on-air explanation of the nation’s many mascots, Oliver highlighted Funassyi, the giant yellow pear who is the unofficial mascot of Funabashi in Chiba, and included one of his more explosive moments on TV.

Need to know more about Japan’s most popular pear?

At first Funnasyi was rejected as the official mascot of his hometown but unlike other successful official mascots, such as Kumamon of Kumamoto Prefecture, Funassyi has come to symbolize Funabashi despite its lack of government sponsorship and become just as popular as any yuru-kyara.

Funnasyi has appeared in national commercials for the Asahi, released a CD single, and been crowned the Grand-Prix winner at an international trade show for character and brand businesses best license in Japan in 2014 as he traveled across Japan and the world to spread his pear-y special brand of energy.

Here are just a few of highlights from 2014:

Funassyi’s popularity hit a milestone last year when, as he was being featured on CNN in June, the news reporter couldn’t help but laugh throughout the broadcast when she saw the mascot flapping his arms around.

In July, Funassyi tried to kickstart a fashion trend by donning a black cap with a “274” logo (a play on the numbers 2-7-4 with can sound like “fu-na-shi”) and appeared in a TV commercial for Shimamura, a fashion shopping center. The fast-running pear with non-stop squealing had fans wondering how he survived the summer heat in his suit.

In September, FUNAcafe, a collaboration event of Funassyi and Shibuya Parco’s The Guest Cafe & Diner, served a special Funassyi-inspired menu including the “funa” burger (with his face on the burger), nashi pear cake, nashi pear tea and even dandan noodles.

The character’s popularity went international when he visited Hong Kong in October, attending a local shopping mall event and bringing Japanese yuru-kyara culture with him. Judging by this video, Funassyi’s fans in Hong Kong are just as passionate as those in Tokyo.

In December, the toy company “Kitan Club” released a Funnasyi-style version of its famous Cup-no-Fuchiko cup-straddling toys. The brands are literally embracing each other as the tiny figurines can cling to each other in three different kinds of positions and as expected of Cup-no-Fuchiko both can sit on the edge of the cup. The announcement climbed to the top of Fuji Television’s weekly Twitter rankings, beating out the hot issue of Japan’s strict state secrets law.

Funassyi is expanding his brand aggressively by creating Funassyi stories everywhere in Japan. Funassyiland, a Funaasyi goods store, opened in Fukuoka in December. According to Asahi Digital News, Funassyi devotees from as far as Tokyo were making the trek.

Funassyi’s naturally fragile yet good-natured personality seems to be a starting point.

The pear rounded out 2014 on Nippon TV by rocking out with his hero, Ozzy Osbourne, performing a headbanging rendition of Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” Funassyi got a little wet and wild when Osbourne dumped a bucket of water on him before pushing him into a swimming pool.

In the same month, whilst making a cameo during a commemorative concert for The Alfee, Funassyi took an untimely tumble but nothing went pear-shaped: the resilient character sprung back into action minutes later.

Without a doubt, Funassyi was a hit in 2014 but only time will tell if the rest of 2015 will keep rewarding the fruits of his labor.

Pulsations (02.08.13)

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

  • Send in the Clowns (from throwoutyourbooks) Seemingly for the first time in Japan, petitions are being signed online and off, angry protests are being voiced on the streets of Tokyo, and even respected celebrities are occasionally wading waist-deep into the debate. William Andrews takes a studied look at Japan’s protest culture past and present.
Katachi means “shape.”  Shugo Tokumaru’s latest video is a time lapse made with approximately 2000 PVC silhouettes. With well over a quarter of a million views, it is getting attention in Japan and abroad.

Today’s J-blip: Name the Tokyu train mascot

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

He’s got a big, goofy grin and a funky headpiece, but one thing the Tokyu train line’s newest mascot doesn’t have is a name. The little guy’s purpose in life is to raise awareness — and “get children excited about” — the Tokyu-Toyoko line’s Fukutoshin extension, which is set to open in March of next year.

Word is that he’s a playful 10-year-old from Kanagawa Prefecture who is secretly on a diet. (What’s that all about? Every yurukyara needs a little bit of a backstory, and this one is a reference to the new trains running on less electricity.) The contest’s entry form has spots for writing the name in Japanese or English. The name should be accompanied by an explanation in Japanese. The winning entry, which will become the character’s official name, will get a ¥50,000 Tokyu gift certificate. Fifty runners-up will get Tokyu swag. The contest ends on Sept. 28. Think we’ve got a chance with “Stripey?”

Photo courtesy of J.L. Gatewood, aka @StarrWulfe.

Can anything stop the AKB48 mutations?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Hot on the heels of the b-kyu gurume (local cuisine) and yuru kyara (local mascot) crazes, gotouchi idols looks like the next big thing to come out of provinces. By copying the massively successful formula used to create AKB48, these all-singing, all-dancing, locally based pop groups are aimed at revitalizing tourism in their respective hometowns.

AKB48, the many-limbed J-pop monster, officially resides in Akihabara at their very own theater on the 7th floor of Don Quijote, where the group gives performances daily. Then there are the regional clones, such as NMB48, from Namba, Osaka, SKE48 in Nagoya, and HKT48 in Fukuoka.

Along those lines, Fukuoka’s Himekyun Fruits Can established its own theater at Matsuyama Kitty Hall where the goup also performs daily. Like most gotouchi idols, Himekyun Fruits Can strongly resembles AKB in numbers, age range and gender: all eight members are young women in their teens and early 20s.

Continue reading about the spread of AKB48 →

Naive yuru kyara win hearts across Japan

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

He’s not cute, in fact many have dubbed him “creepy,” but finally after courting much controversy, the people of Japan have taken Sentou-kun, to their hearts as the official mascot of Nara’s 2010 celebrations. Sentou-kun, who looks like a young Buddha with deer antlers atop his head, is just one of many “yuru kyara” (literally “loose characters”) that have gained national fame in Japan over the last few years.

The phrase yuru kyara was coined by kitsch connoisseur Jun Miura to describe characters that have been rather naively created by non-professional artists to comic effect. While aiming to be cute, an odd concept or a badly executed design produces the opposite effect. Miura’s Web site is a treasure trove of rather odd yuru kyara, from concrete mixers making the peace sign to grinning 2-meter leeks.

But it’s the characters created by local government to attract tourism that have really set the imagination of the Japanese public on fire. In December 15,000 people gathered for a festival in the town of Ginan in Gifu Prefecture and according to a questionnaire, over half were there to catch a sight of Negicho, the popular aforementioned grinning leek character, or rather, a hapless civil servant shanghaied into wearing an uncomfortable leek suit.

Continue reading about yuru kyara →

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