We all know Japanese people love character goods. Hello Kitty, Doraemon, Pokemon are all well-known characters with fans all over the world.
World of Yuru-kyara
Besides them, there is also a list of mascot characters or what we call yuru-kyara (ゆるキャラ) created to promote a place, region, event or business, etc.
One of the most famous ones we know is Kumamon, from Kumamoto Prefecture. There is actually an annual Grand Prix event where these mascot characters will gather and get votes to see who’s Number 1 for the year. It generates a lot of business from people attending related events and also fans buying their favourite character goods.
I have a few favourites of my own. From NTV’s weather mascot Sorajiro, to Shizuoka local anime series mascot Panpaka Pants, Japanese people are really good at creating these interesting characters complete with their date of birth, personality or favourite foods.
Travel to Okutama
We travelled to Okutama this week, on a rare sunny day in the middle of this rainy season, hoping to experience some nature on the outskirts of Tokyo.
Encounter with Wasapi
I was immediately attracted by this cute-looking character, Wasapi.
Yes, it’s meant to look like wasabi, the actual plant before it is ground into a green paste for our sushi.
According to the official site, Wasapi’s gender is a secret but born on 1st April 2015.
There’s a series of Line stickers created in 2017 for Wasapi which was so adorable that I downloaded at the price of 50 JPY. Totally worth it!
We are having a lot of time playing with these funny stickers because of the gags they created using the fact that Wasapi is wasabi… So wordings like “身を削る思いです” and “人生ピリ辛がちょうど良いよ” are hilarious to those who also understand Japanese language.
Beautiful greenery and waters
Besides the very cute Wasapi, Okutama is a really relaxing place to spend some hours in beautiful greenery and waters. I think those who enjoy outdoor river fishing or camping will love it here for sure.
There are other spots like Nippara Limestone Caves which we couldn’t go with our schedule this time. So we will come here again via car next time!