From December of last year until this February, Tottori City held an open call for mascot ideas for a character to represent the Tottori Castle ruins. The ruins were named one of Japan’s 100 notable castles and have enjoyed an influx of tourists.

The mascot idea which came in second place was Katsue-san, the starving farm girl. When the announcement of Kazue hit, the internet lit up with excitement. However, she mysteriously disappeared from the Tottori City website soon after.

The character of Katsue-san is a reference to a historical event during the warring states period. Under orders of Oda Nobunaga, Hideyoshi Hashiba (later Toyotomi) was sent to take over Tottori Castle. The long siege was eventually ended when Hideyoshi starved those inside the castle to the point of surrender.

Katuse-san seems to have been one of the peasants from outside the castle who was driven inside by Hideyoshi to force his opponents to go through their supplies more quickly. Although her sunken face suggests an old woman, we can see her youthfulness through her posture and the way her clothes fit.

She stands clutching a frog and stares at it through half-dead eyes willing herself to eat it lest she have to taste the flesh of fallen soldiers (as some of her fellow castle residents were forced to do according to some historical records). With skin as dim as her chance of continuing her life of constant pain until tomorrow, this innocent young woman’s life was ruined – a pawn in a game between tyrannical warlords…


Anywho! We’d like to congratulate the first place winner. Torinojyo! With a bright smile framed by a handlebar moustache and waving his fan under a steady rain of confetti, it’s as if Rip Taylor and a castle had a fabulous baby together.

At first it seemed as if Torinojyo and Katsue-san would join forces in celebrating Tottori Castle. However, after news of Katsue-san took the web by storm all mention of her seemed to have disappeared from the Tottori website. Nevertheless, Twitter users were moved by the original mascot concept and created their own fan art of Katsue-san.

This one even shows the cross marketing potential of Katsue san with area restaurants.

For now the future of Katsue-san is unclear, but she deserves a chance in the mascot game. She’s certainly original and in a roundabout way also serves as a symbol of the resilience and perseverance of the people of Tottori.

Source: Goo News, Kinisoku, Naver Matome, Tottori City (Japanese)