Cute anti-coronavirus cat mascot hands out masks in Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese are arguably obsessed with cuteness and mascots but in the nicest possible way. This particular mascot is both cute and functional. In addition to handing out free face coverings the mascot also reminds Tokyo’s residents to keep socially distanced, all in the furtherance of mitigating the spread of this disease. It is interesting that they have used English on the visor.
Japan has a thriving mascot culture and cuteness has been with the nation since the 1970s. They even make robots (which they are very good at) to look cute. Why do Japanese people like cute objects? A study found that people focused better after viewing cute images. My theory is that looking at cute images is a panacea for the harsh realities of life. Cute objects and images temporarily removes people from the realities surrounding them. A lot of people find surviving quite hard and harsh. Cuteness elevates the mood. I think that’s a reasonable theory and perhaps there is a scientific study on it too but it just comes to my mind because it’s common sense.
In Japan, the love of cuteness is the science of “Kawai”, which means cute or lovable. It has pervaded Japanese communication, clothing, toys, robots and Japanese pop culture. Cats are often depicted in a cute way, particularly kittens of course. They are cute anyway.
Many businesses and even towns have their own mascot. This latest one is roaming the streets of Tokyo and is called Koronon. It means “no corona” according to the company who created the mascot and I presume the name. The name appears to be an amalgam of the words ‘corona’ and ‘no’ but made to sound more cute and usable.
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Japan is currently closed to foreigners and the nation’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned that travelling increases the chances of contracting the infection.
The mascots are known in Japan as “yuru-chara” or “yuru-kyara”.