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Tea is the first beverage that comes to mind for most people when they think of Japan, followed closely by sake, beer, chu-hi, and a plethora of other alcoholic beverages for those who spent time at a Japanese university. There are plenty of coffee drinkers in the country too though, with Yuki Jirushi (“Snow Mark”) Coffee’s café au lait being a steady seller in supermarkets and convenience stores for 50 years.

With such a long history, however, the company thought the product’s image could use an updating, and they asked artists to submit their designs for a new mascot to be called Yukiko-tan (-tan being an even cuter version of the already cute Japanese name suffix –chan). Six finalists remain in the contest, and Yuki Jirushi recently held a promotional event to help the undecided pick a favorite by utilizing the tentpole that seemingly all major Japanese marketing campaigns are built around: cute girls.

The event took place on August 4 in a shopping complex attached to Shinjuku Station, with members of the cosplay/idol group Steam Girls on hand to model the six remaining costume designs. In addition to receiving free samples of Yuki Jirushi Coffee, a photo session was held during which attendees could snap pictures of the girls.

▼ We’re hoping the glass box is to help frame the shot so it looks like the cartons Yuki Jirushi Coffee comes in, and not just to keep the girls from escaping.

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The event also included a chance for fans to shake hands with the group, but that’s become standard fare at idol events in Japan these days.

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The big draw here was the chance for a number of attendees to share a single cup of iced coffee with their favorite idol, drinking from two straws like the lovey-dovey couples every single person hates.

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▼ A consummate professional, the idol puts on a brave smile for the camera.

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▼ This man’s excitement is 100% genuine, however, as we can see in his leg hairs standing on end.

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Not every fan in attendance was lucky enough to by selected, however. And if missing out on a chance to share a drink with their favorite idol wasn’t bad enough, they then had to watch as she cozied up with another guy.

Some time after the event ended, one of our reporters spoke with just such a heartbroken attendee.

“When I saw my favorite idol drinking with another guy, my whole field of vision went white,” said the 34-year-old fan, who we’ll call Mr. A. “The next thing I knew, I was lying in bed at home, with no recollection of how I got there. I cried and cried all night. But I kept telling myself, that wasn’t the idol I know drinking with that guy. It was actually Yukiko-tan, and in the end, I felt like I could still continue being that idol’s fan. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest.”

Despite the trauma he suffered, Mr. A still felt that the costume worn by his favorite idol was the best of the bunch, and logged onto the Yuki Jirushi website to cast his vote for it. He’s also feeling well enough that he’s planning to head to the next Yukiko-tan event at the upcoming Comic Market anime/manga fair being held at Tokyo Big Sight from August 10 to 12. Here’s hoping he can remain lucid for the train ride home this time.

Fans can vote for their favorite costume design from now until August 31 on the Yuki Jirushi Coffee website. We’ve included the finalists below, for those of you who can handle the emotion of choosing one.

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Related: Yukiko-tan Official Website
Top image: RocketNews24
Insert images: RocketNews24, Yukiko-tan Official Website
[ Read in Japanese ]