Larger-than-life mascots are one of the best things about Japan. Known locally as yuru-chara, these large, bumbling creatures range from cute to hilarious to a bit scary. Now, you can show off your yuru-chara pride by voting for your favourite mascot in the 2020 Yuru-Chara Grand Prix, an annual event that ranks mascots throughout Japan. Voting is open in English and Japanese, so you won’t need to read any kanji to participate.
Official mascots are eligible to compete, including those representing local government or tourism and private companies. Arukuma, a cross-eyed apple bear from Nagano Prefecture, took the grand prize in 2019, while Inunakin, a doggy superhero from Osaka, took second place.
Previous winners can no longer compete in the Grand Prix, so you won’t find big names like Kumamon (2011 winner) or Shinjo-kun (2016 winner) here. Instead, the competition is about finding the next big thing in Japanese mascots.
This year’s Grand Prix has 394 contenders. Looking through the list, you’ll find plenty of new mascots that deserve recognition, like the large-mouthed Antarou from Kochi, the adorable pink bunny Ka-Min from Hyogo or the disturbing Radish Grandpa (pictured above) from Ichikawa in Chiba prefecture. Each mascot has a small biography on their profile page in Japanese, so you can learn a bit about the creature before voting.
Voting wraps up on September 25 and the winners will be announced on October 3 and 4 at the Grand Prix ceremony hosted in Iwate prefecture this year. Anyone can vote as long as they’re registered. Registration is free but the process is a bit complicated: send a blank email to email@example.com, which will automatically reply with a registration URL.
For more information, see the voting registration page here (scroll down for English). You can vote multiple times – limited to once a day – for your favourite mascot.
More from Time OutShare the story