Japan's Adorable Mascots Face The Chop, Even Funassyi The Talking Pear! — PHOTOS
Cute, colorful and slightly strange mascots are one of the hallmarks of Japanese culture — but not for very much longer. Japan is cutting back on its mascots because they're costing the government way, way too much money. These characters, or "yuru-kyara," are used throughout the country as a way to promote everything from tourist attractions to the police and military.
Japan's mascots have been wildly successful over the years. Even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had his own mascot in 2013 to promote the Liberal Democratic Party during election season. Still, it looks like their role in Japanese life will be limited very soon: Japan's finance ministry called for the cutback on the eccentric mascots after a recent financial report found them to be waste of public funding.
The report found that "most of [the mascots] had no clear purpose" and often don't have enough financial value to justify their use. Ruh-roh.
But just how much do these Japanese mascots cost? Well, one Japanese mascot suit reportedly cost more than $14,000. The report also found that many of these mascots are only trotted out a few times of year.
So, before we say goodbye to some of Japan's beloved mascots, here's a look at some of the country's weirdest characters...
Funassyi The Talking Pear
Funyassi comes from the Japnese city of Funabashi, which is known for its pears. So, why not have a giant, dancing, singing pear as your mascot, right?
Sasebo The Burger Boy
Sasebo The Burger Boy is the official mascot for Sasebo Burgers, an insanely popular Japanese restaurant. He may not look that creepy when depicted on a two-dimensional sign, but as a real-life boy with a giant burger head, he's a little less cute.
Hikonyan is a samurai cat who was created by the local government of Hikone for the city's 400th celebration of the founding of the Hikone Castle. He's based on a folklore that says a Japanese lord was saved from a lightening strike by a mysterious white cat. However, that doesn't explain his samurai helmet.
Kumamon The Bear
Kumamon errs more on the "cute" than "weird" side. Created in 2010 by the Kumamoto Prefecture government, Kumamon is a giant black bear who was swiftly moved through the mascot ranks. Now one of the most popular mascots in Japan, he promotes everything from cars to shower curtains.
Manbe-kun is a wacky hybrid of a crab, a clam, a starfish and a boy (we think). He hails from the town of Oshamanbe, and tends to make headlines with his controversial Twitter account.