Welcome again to JJNN for Tuesday August 19th, 2008. Today we will be taking about the Japanese and their mascots. (mascots are normally entertaining so I am keeping this under entertainment)
There is nothing that the Japanese like better than a symbol. A symbol is something that people can stand behind and become as one. When people are are attracted to a symbol there is a more of a sense of unity and the people will work together more efficiently. On one end of the symbol spectrum there are things like flags and national symbols. They are things that are basically two dimensional and all people in the country recognize and hold a least a little respect for. On the other side of the spectrum are things like mascots. Mascots are characters that are usually in some three dimensional form (though some times they are not) that a lot of people know. Notice that there is really no form of respect for mascots. There may be those that respect certain mascots, but they are few and far between.
In Japan there are mascots everywhere. Some famous examples are the ones used by Japanese baseball teams and ones that are used in various cities and prefectures. Personally I like the one shown below. His name is Shota and he is here to remind us to put out our fires.
Any way, today's news story about mascots can be found here. It seems that Nara is celebrating its 1300 year anniversary. And, of course, there is no better way to celebrate such a hug anniversary than celebrating with a mascot. The Nara mascot is named sento-kun. It can be seen below.
I know what you are thinking. "That is on ugly Mo-fo" Well, you're right. It is ugly. They tried to do too much with this mascot. They wanted to add both the Buddhist aspect (the biggest indoor Buddha is in Nara) and the deer aspect (Nara is known for deer). When those two aspects are put together you end up with that abomination.
Sento-kun was unveiled today because it is 500 days before the birthday of Nara. He will be around Nara for a little while, but in October there is going to be a mascot battle in Shiga prefecture. In the battle will be the Nara mascot, Sento-kun, and the mascot for the 400 year anniversary of the Hikone castle, Hikonyan. I will be on the edge of my seat for this battle.
Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 奈良(なら). It is pronounced Nara and means Nara. Nara is a famous city in western Japan. It is very close to Osaka and Kyoto. It has a lot of interesting old temples to see, but a lot of the buildings surrounding the old temples are very new. If you can shade that part of the picture, it is a great place to spend a half day or a day wandering around. Definitely a good place to visit if you are going to visit Kyoto and Osaka any way.
That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.