If you visit Japan, at some point you will definitely notice the love for “yuru-kyara” (ゆるキャラ), the cute funny characters that are designed as mascots. Very often those mascots represent a specific place, town or region with the aim of promoting it. In those cases, they can be called “gotouchi-kyara” (ご当地キャラ) and many times they would represent something very typical and local of the area they promote. You might be asking yourself what this has to do with tea… well with the exuberant love and almost obsession for mascots, there sure are also a few about Japanese tea!!!
Actually, from North to South there are so many, that we might have even missed some. And every mascot has its own story.
There is a cute little samurai (Ochamurai) in Minami-Kyushu, a pretty traditional tea picker in Kikugawa (Chako-chan) designed by a manga artist from the area and another one in Wazuka that even has her own instagram channel (Cha-cha-chan). We can find a guardian of rivers and forests that live in a tea plantation (Ochappy). Yamechamaru has a teapot head and lives in Yame, while Chanomikoto is the descendant of Kirishima’s goddess.
There are even two super-hero Power Rangers style tea mascots! One is Chacha Maru and lives in Nagasaki, the other is Katekingu and keeps everyone safe in Nishio.
And as each prefecture might have more than one, Higashisonogi town has its own tea seed: Chako-chan.
Okabe is from Fujieda and has a mandarin on its head and teafields on its body, representing the local delights. There is Wakaba-chan in Shibushi, whose pony-tale hairstyle remind of tea buds.
Uji town, one of the places where tea began in Japan (and where everything is tea related) could only have a tea prince! The 88th prince is a baby whose favourite colour is – of course – green and favourite food is matcha ice-cream. Can you guess what his crown is? A chasen!
All these cute characters very often have also their own merchandise. Which can make a nice tea souvenir from your travels around Japan. What about looking for each of them next time you vis
* A special mention for this article goes to our Tea Fellow and tea specialist Marjolein Raijmakers of Ikedoki Tea. She kindly helped with the research of the mascots – and sharing the fun!