Rilakkuma by San-X
Rilakkuma is a bear that is made by the Japanese company San-X. He first was produced in 2003 by them. The name Rilakkuma is a combination of two Japanese words, the first part being relax and the second part being bear. Rilakkuma is said to be one of the most popular characters in Japan, while listing 5th in a survey of the character databank in Japan.
San-X makes many other characters that are available on the Japanese market. Others that are available are Mamegoma, Sentimental Circus, Chocopa, Kutsushita Nyanko and more.
Rilakkuma first appeared in picture books called Rilakkuma Seikatsu that are produced by the San-X company but are now just as popular as the plush cuddly toys are. Rilakkuma is the most popular character by San- and there are many different products made with Rilakkuma, from hovers to food and clothes and book and video games, but the most popular are the plush toys that widly available over Japan. All the toy shops that Ive visited in Japan always have a little section of the shop dedicated to Rilakkuma. There are also several Rilakkuma stores across Japan that mainly sell all things Rilakkuma, but you will also find some of San-X other popular characters available. At the end of this post you will find some addresses to some of the Rilakkuma stores in the greater Tokyo area and some in-store photos that we took on one of our trips.
On our trip to Tokyo last November we meet up with two of our friends who live in Tokyo. At the end of our evening we exchanged gifts – like we always do, which I find is such a fun thing to do. We always try to find things to take with us that you would not find in Tokyo, thats typical of Sweden or England, since we know that our friends love both countries.
This time we got this lovely book called “Tokyo on foot”.
What makes this book unique from other tour books is that you wont find the typical information you might find all the others. It is an illustrated tour of Tokyo. This book is great if you dont like reading page after page of text. All the pictures are hand drawn, something thats rarely seen nowadays.
The illustrator of this book, Florent Chavouet, spent 6 months visiting different neighbourhoods in Tokyo and drew a very personal picture of the neighbourhoods – from the local police station to the small food shops and restaurants. The book also includes maps of each neighbourhood.
It is a really unique book and a great “read”.
Before our first trip to Japan I started looking into how we could access the internet from our smart phones. We had free wifi at the hotel, so that was good, but I really wanted to be able to use the internet wherever I was in Tokyo. I started to look up how it was with free wifi hot-spots but I gave up in the end. Sure you can go to Apple Store to use in store wifi and a lot of cafes have wifi, but I needed internet on the go while I was in Tokyo.
The main reason I needed internet on the go was so I could use some of the apps on my smart phone, like Google maps, since I always get lost while in Tokyo, and transport information apps, and of course I wanted to be able to use Facebook and check-in whenever and where I was and also be able to use Skype to so I could call home if needed.
I love sushi. Its been my favourite food for years and something I buy when I want to treat myself. But I always knew the kind of Sushi we eat here in Sweden is no where near as good as the one you get in Japan. So it was a given I had to try real Japanese sushi the first time we went there.
We stayed at a hotel in Shinjuku, and a couple of block from the hotel I found a nice looking sushi place called Tsukiji Sushiko. Its on Yasukuni street, next to the English pub Hub. Tsukiji Sushiko have pictures of the sushi bites on display outside, and once inside I was presented with a menu with pictures, so all I had to do was point at whatever I wanted and tell them I wanted it as take away. “Take out” is what you say in Japan, by the way.
They asked us to sit and wait for the sushi, which is prepared fresh, and while we waited they gave us green tea. Such a nice thing!
The way the sushi was packaged surprised me. I was only having it as take away, but still it was wrapped like it was a special gift. They used a wooden box with a lid and laid the sushi bites on green leaves. Then the box was wrapped in nice paper and then put in a sturdy paper bag. Amazing! In Sweden the sushi just gets thrown into polystyrene takeaway boxes.
Before when I knew very little of Japan and its character culture, the only character I had really evey heard of and seen was the very well known Hello Kitty. It’s hard not to have missed Hello Kitty it since she’s on anything you can turn pink and put a cat on. You name it – from cans of fizzy drinks to clothes and even hotel rooms that are coved in the lovable kitty one might say.
After seeing videos on YouTube of some other character that also came from Japan it started to become more fun. Hello Kitty seems so boring to me now because she can be seen and brought all over the world.
But there are certain character that are very popular in Japan to those in the know that I had no idea about. Every character seems to have a world built around it, where almost every week there a new product is coming out in Japan with a character either on it or a character promoting a product for another company.
You end up becoming a bit obsessed with them. One week you buy a drink just because you favorite character is on the can. Even if you don’t like the drink you like the character so you just have to have it. I’m very much the same when I’m in Japan. I will buy almost everything with my favorite character on.
Over the next months I will post all about the characters I know and love from Japan.
What Japanese characters do you like? Please share in the comments!