July 23, 2011

Introducing Chi-ba-kun

Chi-ba-kun, the official mascot for Chiba Prefecture. Originally conceived in 2010 as an "image character" for the 65th National Sports Festival/10th National Sports Festival for the Disabled, the little red dog proved so popular that Chiba Prefecture adopted it as their official mascot this January.

To coincide with the Sports Festival, Chi-ba-kun cell phone straps and pins were sold in municipal centers in Chiba. Since Urayasu hosted the karate meets, among others, Chi-ba-kun is wearing a karate uniform here. This pin cost a mere 160 yen (2 USD).

After becoming the mascot for Chiba, commercialization of the character began in earnest. Here, he is the face of a cookie sold around the Tokyo Bay area. The cookie contains peanuts, which Chiba is famous for. At the Chi-ba-kun Shop, you can find everything from stickers to neckties showing the character in its many incarnations.

By the way, the dog, when standing upright, resembles the shape of Chiba prefecture itself.

Another one of its responsibilities: promoting road safety. A pair of disgruntled policemen snapped photos for the handful of passers-by who couldn't resist asking for a photo.

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