In Japan, there is a mascot for everything. Unlike in America, where these giant plush characters are reserved for sports teams and select corporate brands, Japanese mascots—or yuri-chara—can represent cities, prefectures, festivals, anti-smoking campaigns, and anything else that needs a giant cute character to sell itself to the public. Mondo Mascots, a Twitter account and website curated by “a British guy living in Tokyo,” is committed to celebrating this seemingly endless supply of yuri-chara. These mascots can vary from run-of-the-mill cute, round things to sentient postmodern nightmares to horny pieces of kelp.
Some of the mascots have a logical origin story, like this patchwork elephant that pays tribute to a real elephant that once lived in the Suwayama Park Zoo.
Others are a bit harder to parse. For example, the Marugane City mascot, Honetsuki Juju, is a man with a chicken leg for a head that occasionally pushes a baby turtle around in a stroller. Here he is riding around on a giant tricycle:
Japanese sports mascots are no less creative. The Rakuten Golden Eagles— not wanting to have something as pedestrian as a simple bird mascot —alternate between a “morose middle-aged man with an eagle on his head” and a seaweed monster with the face of their human coach.
Some characters, like Kumamon, the rosy-cheeked bear from Kumamoto Prefecture, or Domo, the open-mouthed monster that represents Japanese broadcaster NHK, have transcended local popularity and are plastered on merchandise around the world. Others, like the humble Kan-Chan, just want you to know about the health benefits of enemas.
The Mondo Mascots Twitter is updated daily, so do yourself a favor and flood your timeline with dozens of these inexplicably cute and often disturbing characters.