Adorable mascots are an ingrained part of Japanese culture in a way that isn’t true in the U.S. or Britain. According to the 2011 book Fuzz and Fur: Japan’s Costumed Characters, the Japanese term for such entities is kigurumi, which means something like “dressing up as a stuffed toy.” In America, sports teams are the primary sponsor of such characters, although you do see them sometimes advertising a car dealership or a tax return office in the U.S.
Even though he was never affiliated with the San Diego Padres or any other team, the San Diego Chicken remains the defining exemplar of the genre.
In Japan, many companies and products have a signature mascot intended to draw the attention of consumers. Most Japanese mascots are forgettable enough, but every now and then one comes along that is different from the rest. Such is the case with a mascot unveiled by the Ichijiku Pharmaceutical Company earlier this week. The mascot’s named is “Kan-chan” and she (yes, she) made her debut on Twitter with two poses in front of the Tokyo Skytree Building.
What sets Kan-chan apart is Ichijiku Pharmaceutical’s stock in trade, which is the retail enema. And Kan-chan definitely was designed to resemble that product. Indeed, the resemblance is unmistakable when you look at the product and Kan-chan next to each other:
Somewhat ridiculously, Ichijiku Pharmaceutical apparently has insisted that Kan-chan is a penguin, even claiming that the pink nubbin on the top of her head is not an enema cap but is rather a “hair accessory,” whatever that means. But this seems unlikely, if you consider that Kan-chan’s very name is a shout-out to Ichijiku Pharmaceutical’s signature product—the Japanese word for enema is kancho.
Kan-chan was invented last year in a contest that was open to the public. Here is the Facebook post announcing the winning entry. Kan-chan is equally adorable in two dimensions.
Hilariously, according to Kotaku, in Japan kanchou is a word for a notorious childhood prank in which you ram your index fingers into an unsuspecting person’s backside. Sort of an enema for the K-6 set!
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Capitalism in an eggshell: The San Diego Chicken explains free market economics
Adorable Japanese mascot drummer plays some serious death metal beats to children’s songs
The Great Japanese Mascot Summit