Mascot Overload: Japan’s Obsession with Mascots

6. Reruhi-san

With plenty of ski yuru-kyara floating around, Reruhi-san stands out as one of the most popular.

Falling under the weird-but-cute category, his character is based on Austrian Major General Theodore Elder von Lerch, a “winter leisure sports” ambassador who visited Japan. He looks a bit like a garden gnome, and is as sweet as he is creepy. Reruhi-san represents Nigata Skiing promoting the Omotesando Hills.

5. Meron Kuma

Also known as Melon Bear, Meron Kuma looks more like a vicious beast from a fairytale legend than anything else. Still, the bear that dons a crazy green mask and always has his fangs out is quite popular. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to this yuru-kyara which depicts photos of the bear taking a bite out of the other Japanese mascots — and sometimes even travelers visiting the city he represents of Yubari.

4. Nishiko-kun

Not cute, not cuddly, not sweet … at all! Nishiko-kun is far odder than anything else on the mascot spectrum.

How can you describe him? Well, he’s a dog, trapped in a sun, within a circle, that has legs and wears gray spandex tights. He caught the attention of many during the 2011 Mascot Grand Prix, where he won third place! Even more of a reason why being weird can be a good thing at times.



Most Intense Long-Distance Marathons (Not for the Faint of Heart)

For those among us who love a challenge, these long-distance marathons and outdoor challenges are activities that can only be attempted after years of training, with the right gear, and only by those who are mentally ready to undergo such a feat. Here are some of the most intense and challenging marathons in the world.

Cultured Palate: Dishes from South Africa

South Africa’s incredible biodiversity and rich cultural heritage has given it a unique cuisine unlike any other place on Earth. There are visible influences from the Dutch, German, French, and Cape Malay colonizers, as well as indigenous dishes that have been passed down for generations. If you’re spending your next holiday in South Africa, here are some amazing dishes you must try.

Culture Palate: Dishes from Ukraine

Typically, Ukrainian dishes are hearty, filling, and made with a variety of cooking techniques. In one dish, it’s not uncommon for cooks to have to boil or fry multiple ingredients before they’re finished together in the oven or in a bubbling stew. If you’re visiting Ukraine, make sure to check out some of these dishes. If you get a chance to taste them in their ideal form, you can easily recreate them at home.