Japan will see your chocolate-carrying rabbit and raise you a co-opted mayonnaise mascot wearing a muppet costume.

With Halloween the latest western holiday to have been assimilated into Japanese culture, it is becoming all too apparent that Easter is next in line to be marketed to the country. It will be a hard sell, however, mostly due to the holiday’s confusing schedule based on a lunisolar calendar.

Looking past that, there are also the unusual customs of painting eggs and then searching for them after a giant rabbit hides them. This is all done in an apparent homage to the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ.

However, these weaknesses may also be Easter’s strengths as it’s clearly pretty flexible in terms of traditions. For example, if Universal Studios Japan (USJ) wants to give away Easter eggs with a Kewpie doll dressed as Elmo dressed as a bunny, who’s to say: “Harumph! That isn’t Easter.”

This marriage of Elmo and Kewpie is symbolic of the partnership between USJ and Kewpie for this particular Easter campaign. Also, Japan has a notorious soft-spot for taking one popular character and then dressing up as a completely unrelated one.

By sending in the proof of purchase for various Kewpie products, you can be entered to win either one of 1,000 day-passes for USJ or one of 5,000 of the aforementioned Kewpie dolls.

This will be the second year that the Easter Bunny Elmo Costume Kewpie Doll will be offered, suggesting that this may become an annual custom in celebration in Japan, and that’s great.

▼ Last’s year’s had no egg, but came with an egg-timer
and Kewpie-shaped boiled egg mold

After all, Easter is supposed to celebrate rebirth whether it’s the resurrection of a beloved spiritual leader or the renewal of nature. So, a few years from now, when I’m hunting for kamaboko (steamed fish paste) hidden by the Easter Elmo-Kewpie before enjoying a nice box of traditional Easter donuts, I’ll be at ease knowing that this kind of reinvention is exactly what the holiday is about.

Source: Kewpie X Universal Studios Japan Easter Celebration
Images: Kewpie 1, 2