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.
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!