By Deidre Foley
Move over Kumamon, it’s the Nagasaki mascots’ time to shine.
Although the Kumamoto Prefecture mascot is very well-known, he is just one of thousands of yuru-kyara (mascot characters) in Japan. Generally speaking, mascot characters can be split into two groups: gotochi-kyara (regional characters) and company characters. Regional characters are usually created by a town with the goal of promoting local industry and tourism. These mascots often get their features from the local culture, history, geography, or special product (see: Chako-chan in Higashisonogi) of the area they represent. Company characters are made to represent other types of groups or organizations — anything ranging from a railway company to a museum.
Do you know any mascot characters in Nagasaki? Check out the Nagazasshi’s picks below and tell us your favorite on our social media!
Unai-san is an eel fairy from Isahaya. It enjoys going on walks around town and posting pictures of its outings on social media.
Ganba-kun and Ramba-chan (Nagasaki National Athletic Meet)
Ganba-kun and Ramba-chan are Mandarin ducks, childhood friends, and representatives of the Nagasaki Kokutai Taikai (Nagasaki National Athletic Meet). They encourage all people in Nagasaki to have an active and healthy lifestyle.
Baramon-chan, Gotorin, and Tsubakineko (Goto)
Goto City has a terrific trio of mascot characters. Baramon-chan borrows his appearance from traditional baramon kites, and his name is from baraka, which means “healthy boy” in the Goto dialect. Gotorin wears a white veil with a stained glass pattern, which pays homage to the churches of Goto; she also wears a camellia flower on her head. Tsubakineko also has a large camellia flower on its head, which may promote the Camellia Park on the island.
Shimbaran is a guardian deity who carries a gourd of Shimabara spring water. He was created by Shimabaran local Noriyuki Konishi, who wrote the Yokai Watch manga.
Chako-chan is a tea fairy whose body is a tea fruit, and whose limbs and hat are tea leaves. She represents and promotes the local specialty, Sonogi tea.
Tangi-kun (Saikai)Tanuki can be called tangi in the Saikai dialect, hence the name Tangi-kun. He originated as a mascot for Saikai’s Genki Mura, a tourist attraction which offers several agricultural experiences.