Organizers find a way to let vision-impaired kids express their opinion of which of the adorable characters best represents Japan.

With the PyeongChang Winter Games half-way over, Japan is getting set to step into the spotlight as the next country to host the Olympics and Paralympics, with the Summer 2020 games coming to Tokyo. Part of the continuing preparations for Tokyo 2020 is the selection of official mascot characters, and though the Tokyo Organizing Committee narrowed the field down to six finalists back in December, the privilege of choosing which two mascots will represent the events has been bestowed upon the elementary school students of Japan.

Each of the three pairs features the skillfully cute and charming aesthetic sensibilities Japanese designers are known for, but the Tokyo Organizing Committee realized that illustrations alone wouldn’t be enough for some kids to decide which to cast their vote for. So to include blind and otherwise vision-impaired children in the selection process, the committee commissioned palm-sized resin models of the six mascot finalists, and has sent complete sets to various prefectural education boards so that they can distribute them to educational institutions that have need of them.

Having three dimensional models allow the children to literally get a feel for the different designs even if they’re unable to perceive them with their eyes. Since some of the prospective mascots are based off creatures that live in Japan or are featured in Japanese folklore, some children were able to form a mental connection with sculptures and decorations they’d felt at Shinto shrines.

▼ Two of the potential Olympic mascots draw inspiration from fox spirits…

▼ …while their potential Paralympic partners include komainu lion-dog and shapeshifting tanuki racoon dog.

Voting is scheduled to end on February 22, so if the data is tallied fast enough, we should know who the 2020 Tokyo mascots will be by the time the PyeongChang Games come to a close on February 25.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun (H/T Twitter/@trilavier, Twitter/@EleniPsaltis
Images: Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games