Kawaii Culture in Niseko
The concept of kawaii, or a culture of cuteness, can be found across all aspects of Japanese life and Niseko has plenty of its own adorable characters.
One phenomenon which stands out to most tourists in Japan is just how cute everything is! There are thousands of yuru-kyara or kawaii mascots promoting every type of organisation, product and place. With so many beloved and bizarre characters to choose from, there is something endearing for everyone.
For Niseko visitors, we profile our local kawaii favourites that you can meet around town.
The Jovial Jagata-kun
There’s no missing the sweet skiing potato Jagata-kun – Kutchan’s famous mascot! His name translates to “Fat Potato Boy” and you can find him on flags, cookies and merchandise everywhere. The area is celebrated for both its potato growing expertise and its fantastic snow sports, so Jagata-kun champions these with his quirky appearance. Keep an eye out for his snowboarding girlfriend Jagako Chan too!
Tanuki the Raccoon Dog
Not all kawaii creatures are designed for children and the Tanuki statue at Kumo Restaurant certainly demonstrates some adult appeal. It is not, erm, just his big tummy that catches diners’ attention! Tanuki is one of the hundreds of Yōkai or supernatural creatures featured in Japanese folklore, associated with mischievous shapeshifting abilities.
The World’s Cutest Construction Cones
Forget the standard orange traffic cones and construction barriers – Niseko takes a much more creative spin on alerting drivers to any hazards. The cheerful cones include cute foxes and cheeky reindeer, ensuring their presence is noticed. Anime buffs will recognise the little guy pictured above as Tony Tony Chopper from the popular series One Piece. Remember to take your time and drive safely in the snow this winter!
Snowmen with Local Flair
Get inspired to release your inner child and play in the snow! In tribute to Niseko’s outstanding 15-meter average annual snowfall and winter wonderland qualities, snowmen are all around town. They take the form of letterbox lanterns, the gigantic metal snowman greeting travellers on Route 5, and even neon snowman street signs which can guide you to Kutchan’s karaoke… Notice the local features too, like a Hokkaido Island shaped nose!
Kawaii here, Kawaii there, Kawaii everywhere!
While experiencing Niseko, you can also spot lucky cats on counters, delivery trucks decorated with cartoon characters, fluffy critters dangling from handbags and animated public service advertisements.
If you want to get in on this popular cultural craze, we recommend you head to the Daiso 100-yen store to grab an alpaca mug with ears, to Homac for some cute dining chair socks, or the Ki Niseko gift shop for quality kawaii souvenirs.
Want to feel like a Niseko local this winter? Check out our top 5 tips.