Yuki Jirushi Coffee is a brand that pretty much everyone in Japan is familiar with. Available in supermarkets, convenience stores and even vending machines all over the country, Yuki Jirushi (lit. “snow mark”)’s sweet and creamy café au lait has been delighting coffee lovers for 50 years.

In celebration the country’s undying love for the chilled caffeinated beverage and wanting to spruce up its familiar yet somewhat uninspired packaging, Yuki Jirushi Coffee’s makers have teamed up with pixiv to launch a contest asking fans with a passion for doodling to come up with a mascot character to adorn the coffee cartons.

The contest to create a the perfect Yukiko-tan hasn’t been open long, but already we’re seeing some sterling work appearing on the company’s website, with everything from maid-style Yukiko designs to playful riffs on the famous Starbucks logo.

The only stipulation is that the mascot character be in keeping with the original packing design and, presumably, not be X-rated. The above image, known as “subdued and gentle Yukiko-tan” is in fact an entry from non other than Mamiya-san, a manga artist who often produces work for our sister site RocketNews24 Japan, who later said with a forlorn stare, “I entered, but since I didn’t make her cute it’s not very popular… I just thought there should be an entry that’s a little more down to earth.” Chin up, Mamiya-san!

The “tan” suffix after the proposed mascot’s name is a very otaku version of the affectionate suffix “chan”. We’re not entirely sure that this cute and nerdy image entirely works for a brand of coffee that’s been around for 50 years, but as we’ve seen many times in the past, the mere presence of an animé-style character on packaging and promotions often has dramatic effects.

yukijirushi coffee

Yuki Jirushi Coffee’s packaging is a blend of rich, dark browns with splashes of yellow and red. Not exactly the kind of colours you’d normally find in moé-style illustrations or typical manga, but the simple colour scheme could definitely result in some interesting designs.

Let’s take a look at some of the entries so far!

▼This one’s getting a lot of attention online!

▼How cute is this!?

▼They’re all of an incredibly high standard.

▼Wait… this is…

▼And, of course, Mamiya-san’s “mature” imagining…

There are some pretty cool entries here, we're sure you'll agree!

The contest is running between now and 30 April, with no limit to the number of times individual participants can enter. The six designs that receive the most votes will be featured on cartons of Yuki Jirushi Coffee this summer, as well the overall winner receiving a prize of 200,000 yen (US$2,000)!  

Get scribbling, boys and girls!
[ Read in Japanese ]