Creepy cute mascot
In Japan mascots, or 'yuru kyara' (loose characters) are used by national government organizations, local governments, companies and individuals for the purpose of public relations. These mascots often look 'kawaii'; adorable, cute and soft, think of Hello Kitty. They all have their own fans.
The craze about mascots has resulted in local governments (prefectures and municipalities) competing to create their own mascot. People can vote for the most popular mascot at national contests. Okazaemon, created by contemporary artist Saitokouheita however doesn't look very cute. His face is designed as the kanji 'oka' (岡) in Okazaki, and 'zaki' (崎) is written on his chest to depict chest hair. Artist Saitokouheita uses the term "ill chara" to describe Okazaemon, inspired by the album title "Licenced to ill" from the Beasty boys. Okazaemon really likes music and dancing and appears in several music videos.
Though Okazaemon is relatively new to the scene, he already earned quite some fame, which I think is partly due to its' appearance. Okazaki city mayor Yasuhiro Uchida even designed Okazaemon as Okazaki's Minister for Arts Promotion. Okazaemon was used as part of the PR for the Aichi Triennale 2013. Recently a shop opened where you can buy all kinds of Okazaemon goods.
This month, on June 14, Okazaemon will make his debut in Europe at the "Lollipop Factory Budapest" in Hungary.
Okazaemon at the Lollipop Factory Budapest
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