• Travel Spots

Fukui: Bucket-like Mascots Promote Hot Spring Resort

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Koji Yagi, the creator of Gonzo Yumeguri and his siblings

AWARA, Fukui — Mascot characters promoting the hot spring resort of Awara, Fukui Prefecture, are proving a hit with locals and visitors thanks to their cute appearance.

The characters, who comprise five siblings, are designed to resemble wooden buckets often used when dousing the body with water at hot springs. The mascots are an increasing presence in the Awara Onsen resort area, popping up on vending machines, bus stops and signboards.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Gonzo Yumeguri, bottom left, and his siblings are seen on a vending machine.

The mascots were created by Koji Yagi, a 45-year-old executive for a local signboard company who was asked by a local business group to design the characters to help vitalize the area.

The main character, Gonzo Yumeguri, has chubby cheeks and wears a yukata Japanese bathrobe. Gonzo was commissioned by the mayor in 2011 to promote the city. He features on packages of the city’s branded sweet potato, T-shirts and other goods.

Gonzo’s backstory includes the fact that he is the third son among five siblings. The other characters also appear in various places with Gonzo.

“When you visit Awara, you can enjoy coming across the characters sporting different expressions depending on the location and the product,” Yagi said.