On June 1, a gathering was held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the municipalization of Takasago City, Hyogo Prefecture. Dubbed the Gotoji Expo, it brought out those lovable civic-minded mascots called yuru-kyara.

And for such as auspicious anniversary the town called in a major mascot from each of the 47 prefectures of Japan such as the former Yurukyara Gran Prix winner Kumamon of Kumamoto Prefecture. An invitation was also sent out to Funasshi, the unofficial yet hugely popular mascot of Funabashi, but it had to decline because of scheduling issues.

So you can imagine the organizers’ surprise when the highly animated pear had actually turned up at Gotoji Expo?

According to Takasago City, at around noon on the June 1, what was thought to have been Funasshi had appeared at the festival. Soon after, the pear-suited person was surrounded by a group of 20 to 30 children, all presumably fans of the massively famous mascot.

Things escalated quickly after a local idol who was performing on stage spotted the manic mascot. “It’s Funasshi!” she shouted into the microphone, pointing in the jiggling pear’s direction. This triggered a rush to get at the yellow star of TV, YouTube, and gifs.

By this time police officers working the event became suspicious and took “Funasshi” into custody in what had to have been either the funniest or saddest scene possible. It was then confirmed that this mascot’s actor was not the real Funasshi at all, but some regular joe from Kakogawa. The man later told police, “It was my mother’s idea. I wore it to make my own children happy.”

The authorities are currently looking into whether the man infringed on Funasshi’s copyright or not. There are conflicting reports as to whether or not he attempted to imitate the yurukyara’s trademark undulations and high-pitched speaking. One witness said “in some photographs you can see him tumbling around. He was totally a rip-off.”

While this could be written off as a simple cosplay, the nature of the event and similarity to yurukyara‘s duties in general may irk some in the business. Last year the real Funasshi was reported to have pulled in around 200 million yen (US$1.9M) whereas an official mascot like Kumamon was said to have generated over 100 billion yen ($980M) for his prefecture. Needless to say, they’re brands that some have a lot invested in and they may not take too kindly to imitators.

Unless you do a really half-assed job of it like we did.

Source: Kobe Shimbun (Japanese) The Japan Times (English)
Images: Funasshi Official Facebook
Mr. Sato Image: RocketNews24