Otodo-chan has been racking up likes and re-tweets for her impassioned PR pleas, seal-ing her fate as one of Japan’s top mascots!

It’s hard to imagine lacking things to do while out in Japan, but if you’ve already perused the Nasu Trick Art Museum and gotten your fill of compliments at Osaka’s Praise Bar, you might consider taking a trip to one of the country’s bountiful aquariums. As an island nation, Japan is chock full of delightful marine museums that vary in size and theme.

One especially well-loved aquarium is the Katsurahama Aquarium in Kochi prefecture, renowned for its adorable sliding seal and its friendly, engaging staff. They even have a mascot, the adorable and sprightly Otodo-chan (her name means ‘sea lion’ in Japanese).

▼ Yes, she always looks like this.

A tweet Otodo-chan made on September 1, where she tearfully wonders where all the aquarium’s guests are, washed over the blogosphere like a tidal wave and users frantically liked and retweeted to show their approval. At the time of writing her tweet has over 34,000 retweets and over 748,000 likes, and drew the attention of news outlets across the country…as well as interested aquarium fanatics, of course.

▼ Otodo-chan solicits customers with desperation and pathos

“Um hi, excuse me, good morning, can all you punks hear me out there? Did some kind of new disaster happen? Katsurahama Aquarium is open, you know? I’d hate to think there was a disaster but it’s been open for 45 minutes and no guests have shown up, so I can’t think what else it could be?????? Is management entering a new Ice Age?????? Huh?????? Huh???????”

So we had to try and get our paws on Otodo-chan for an exclusive interview about her newfound success, and the aquarium that she holds so dear to her sizable chest. And to our shock and surprise, she said yes!

Interviewer: You got a lot of attention on Twitter for that “45 minutes with no guests” tweet! What inspired you to write it? And how do you feel about it now?


“I know that the customer numbers plummet right after the summer vacation ends, but for some reason I just threw all caution to the wind and screamed my emotions out onto the Internet, and I had no idea it’d get this big a response, so honestly it feels kinda weird.”

“Actually it’s probably not all that rare for us to go 45 minutes without any guests in the off-peak period, considering we’re out in the sticks, but ya know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? So I tried sayin’ something!”

Interviewer: Well, that squeaky wheel certainly got a lot of grease, haha! I’m sure you got even more attention online because you, yourself are a mascot character. Do you think your success on Twitter has changed things at your workplace? Like, do you get more customers now, or do they perhaps mention seeing your viral tweet?


“Oh yeah, I’ve had customers say ‘I came here after seein’ the tweet’ to me, but ya know, I got lots of fans outside Kochi prefecture, so it doesn’t have such an immediate impact on their tendency to visit. Gotta be patient, take it slow ‘n steady!”

Interviewer: So you don’t only plan on dominating Kochi prefecture, but the whole world! Amazing. This isn’t the first time Katsurahama Aquarium has gone viral, is it? Back in 2018 the staff had a big hit with their apology poses.

Has anything changed when you look at the aquarium from that viral tweet to this one? Has the atmosphere changed at all? Has there been any impact on you at work?


“Ah, well, society is currently wracked with hardship… Even I, Otodo, have grown old and weary. Heartless people knock me over with full body blows, outsiders judge me with harsh glares… But you know, there are plenty of kind people out there too, people who love me and spoil me. So I experience lots while trying to keep my mental health intact, you know… I decided it’s best I live earnestly as myself, without taking anything too much to heart!”

Interviewer: So you’ve set yourself free!


“I’m also supported by the caretakers and other staff at the aquarium… No matter what hare-brained thing I attempt someone will be around to laugh at me and cheer me on by saying “Otodo-chan, great job!” Having the caretakers around does my heart good. Katsurahama Aquarium is a pretty strange place, it turns out. Every day we’re tryin’ to do a little bit better than the day before, and we always wanna express ourselves with love and passion!”

Interviewer: Right, it seems like the caretakers are very supportive and protective of your freedom. Conversely, are there any times where they’ve had to reel you in, or scold you?


“I don’t think there’s ever been a time when people got angry at me or even warned me about anything. A couple of people have whispered to me “you’re lookin’ a little chubby”, that’s about it. Of course there’s times where I’m on edge or panicky about what people think! But hey, the caretaker who wrangles all the sea lions has gotta be a really big gal, right?!”

▼ Otodo-chan shares her measurements with Twitter.

Interviewer: The more I chat to you, the more I want to go see Katsurahama Aquarium! Will I be able to meet you there if I go?


“I’m not always there, no. Sometimes I’m in the basement surfing the web, or watchin’ DVDs, or goin’ out on trips. I wander around the place when I feel like it…but ONLY when I feel like it. But I love events and special occasions so I should be around on those days!”

Interviewer: I’ll make sure to check when the aquarium has its events! Lastly, could I ask you to tell our readers your favorite exhibit? And what’s your favorite route to go through the aquarium?


“I don’t have a favorite route! Just wander through it in whatever way your heart tells you to wander!”

“Of course I love all the exhibits. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite, and even if I did there might be another exhibit that fits your vibe better. So come down to Katsurahama Aquarium and find your personal fave!”

Our interviewer was truly taken with Otodo-chan’s boundless passion for the aquarium where she works, as well as the high energy with which she fired out her answers (in her adorable Tosa accent, no less).

In fact, re-reading her tweets, we realized that Otodo-chan is a creature of pure passion. She may be a little unsettling to look at on a first glance, but the more you read of her ramblings the more you realize she is utterly dedicated to Katsurahama Aquarium and its staff.

▼ A passionate tweet about the aquarium’s recently departed and beloved otter, Koume.

So for our final message today, we’ll share a message from Otodo-chan to her followers:

“Love more intensely! And keep on loving!”

Thank you, Otodo-chan!

Images: Katsurahama Aquarium, used with permission
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[ Read in Japanese ]