Yuru-Kyara – The Cute Force of Japan

When first-time visitors arrive in Japan, a few things they may notice right off the bat include the juxtaposition of the high-tech and the ancient, the unfailing politeness of locals, and a curious fixation with cuteness — to wit, all the cute mascots that promote regions, historic sites, local specialties and events, the police, you name it.

In recent years, these wildly imaginative mascots have exploded in popularity and profitability, bucking the downward trend of the manga and anime industries that have been declining for a decade. And, unlike multi-billion dollar stars such as Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, this variety known as "yuru-kyara" — which means something along the lines of "cheesy but lovable characters" — earn their keep by drawing attention to a particular place, organization or idea despite, or because of, their lack of polish.

Read the rest of the story: The busy lives of Japan’s super furry creatures.

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