Anyone who has ever visited Japan or spent any amount of time browsing our pages will know that the country is home to literally hundreds of mascot characters, or yurukyara, each weirder than the last. From developmentally challenged sushi to the nightmarish Okazaemon, there’s certainly no lack of originality and quirk to be had.

But one small Ibrakai town has a new mascot character that, according to Japanese net users and our own Japanese staff, “even a mother couldn’t love.” This, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, is Araippe, a creature with bird-like feet, a shell for a nose, and dangling locks of hair that are actually fish fry.

Incredibly, Araippe was chosen over 1,144 other entries in a contest to design a new mascot for Oarai, a coastal town in Japan’s Ibrakai Prefecture. We can’t even begin to imagine what the rejects looked like.

Created by one Hiroki Kobayashi, a designer hailing from Yamanashi Prefecture, the character’s name is a combination of the “arai” from 大洗 Oarai and “da pe“, which can often be heard tacked onto the end of sentences as part of the regional dialect. Araippe’s body, meanwhile, combines the best of Ooarai’s seafood produce including  a hamaguri clam nose, shirasu (sardine fry) hair, and even a clam rake for a tail.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.11.41 AMYouTube

All good yurukyara require a background story, and Araippe is no exception. Washed up on one of the town’s pebbly beaches, Araippe lay forlorn until a group of local fishermen found him and carted him off.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.09.10 AM YouTube

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.09.24 AM YouTube

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.09.51 AM YouTube

Despite being quite literally made of delicious things, the fisherman chose not to chop him up, however, and sent him on his way to spread joy through the town.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.24.40 AM YouTube

Even with his Funasshi-like jiggling and somewhat cutesy appearance, however, Japanese netizens are not entirely taken with Araippe, it would seem:

“Man, that’s ugly!”

“Araippe is ugly as hell.”

“What the heck is that!?”

“My god, that’s gross.”

“Wasn’t there a pokémon like this??”


Honestly, we think they’re being a bit harsh here. Yes, when you consider the fact that this is a walking bundle of fish bits, Araippe is a marginally gross creation. But we’ve seen weirder yurukyara in the past, and quite frankly we’d rather have a seafood-themed mascot dancing for us than be confronted by the aforementioned Okazaemon with his creepy, stalker-like ways.

We’ll leave you with a video from the Ibaraki Shinbun introducing Oarai’s mascot so that you can decide for yourself whether he’s kawaii or just plain kimoi. Maybe he’ll grow on you when you see him in action. Rather like the moss and various crustaceans that are no doubt growing on him this very moment…

[ Read in Japanese ]