One thing you notice while living in Japan is that mascots are everywhere. Everywhere and everything has a super adorable (and sometimes slightly creepy) mascot proudly representing the local culture. Most of them are pretty cute, but I happen to particularly enjoy our Prefectural Mascot, Gunma-chan (also known as Yuma-chan.) It may be a little hometown bias, but I believe that Gunma’s mascot is the cutest mascot of all the mascots!
In olden days, Gunma was the center of horse breeding activity in Japan, and it’s even reflected in our kanji, 群馬 which literally means “Group of Horses”. Thus our mascot is a little horse, and he’s a pretty cute little guy. His face is plastered all over lots of official documents and marketing. Gunma-chan does everything from ride the local bus to celebrate Japanese holidays to give doctor’s examinations in a little white lab coat.
Oh, and if you’d like to follow his exploits, you can even follow his blog! Recent adventures include visiting our city’s lovely Rose Garden, the Tomioka Silk Mill, and perhaps even a trip to Tochigi, I see? My absolute favorite is when the mascots of various locations get together, like some surreal, Super-deformed League of Extraordinarily Cute Gentlemen.
Sean recently submitted this picture to the Gunma JET T-Shirt Competition— かっら風 means empty wind (like karaoke means empty orchestra!) and Gunma is famous for it. Multiple coworkers assured me that “karakaze = Gunma!” and one even requested a copy of the shirt if this is the winner. I think it’s pretty cute!
What do you think, does Gunma-chan reign supreme in terms of adorableness, or is some other local mascot even cuter? I’ll happily admit that hometown bias, but Gunma-chan will always have a special place in my heart! ♥