This 14 August, Yamagata City will be holding its 34th Yamagata Fireworks show, one of the biggest in the Tohoku area. This year the festivities will be represented by Hanapon, the new yuru-kyara (costumed mascot) on the very crowded block.

The concept of Hanapon is simple yet surprisingly deep. At first glance he looks like an exploding peony type of fireworks, but closer inspection reveals that those are actually cherries popping out of its body.

That’s right, Yamagata is known to produce the most cherries in all of Japan. Furthermore, the yellow circles are also supposed to represent peace and friendship. And that thing slightly above and between its eyes… eh, I don’t know what the deal is with that.

News of Hanapon broke in a tweet by Yamagata City yuru-kyara Hanagata Beni-chan on 8 June.

 “Today at city hall the mascot of the Yamagata Fireworks event Hanapon came to greet us”

Much like the explosion Hanapon is, his appearance sent shockwaves of cherries through the already over-saturated Japanese mascot community. Here’s what some of the mascots had to say.

 As the reigning Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix winner, I’d like to welcome Hanapon and humbly ask him to stay the f%#k off my turf [spits]. (Bari-san, Ehime Prefecture)

 Welcome, Hanapon! Best of luck at the Yamagata Fireworks! But if you come to Gunma, I’m gonna have to put a switchblade into your pupil! (*^。^*) (Gunma-chan, Gunma Prefecture)

 I’m a penguin plaaaaaaaaaaaaaane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
(Unari-kun, Chiba Prefecture)

 Fireworks… psshh just an empty moment of numbness from the suffering of youth, maybe if the freaking government would step up and grow a pair we can get to rebuilding this mess of a nation and make the children truly happy again. (Teruhiko, Teruhiko’s Apartment)

With Hanapon’s debut about a month away, the yurukyara community waits to see his impact on the general public. Will he soar to the top like Kumamoto’s Kumamon, or give children the heebie-jeebies like Aichi’s Okazaemon? Probably somewhere in the middle with the other 900 or so mascots in Japan.

Source: 34th Yamagata Fireworks via IT Media (Japanese)
Yuru-kyara Images: Yuru-kyara Grand Prix 2012

***Note: The yuru-kyara comments above were purely fiction and in no way reflects the true feelings of these lovable mascots… except for Teruhiko… that one’s probably close to something he would say. Thank you.***