Cute character flies under the radar, but there’s a special prize for those who can hunt it down!

Out of all the train stations in the world, only one has been certified by the Guinness World Records as having the largest number of passengers, and that station is Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station.

However, despite its estimated average of 3.59 million passengers per day, there are around 3.58 million who don’t know that the station now has its very own character mascot. If you haven’t heard of this either, don’t worry — we’re here to introduce the cute little critter to you today, and to do that, let’s take a quick visit to Shinjuku Station.

▼ Here it is! The new character’s name is…Tanutanu!

Tanutanu is a tanuki (raccoon dog) character, and according to its bio, it likes to add “nu” at the end of words, and it loves trains so often goes for strolls around Shinjuku Station. Like all mythological Japanese racoon dogs, Tanutanu has the ability to shapeshift, however, because it hasn’t mastered the art yet, the best it can do for now is wear a cap like a rail employee to disguise itself.

Oh, and it has a whirl that goes round and round on its stomach, which appeared when Tanutanu got lost going round and round inside the station. That’s a particularly nice quirk for the character to have, seeing as pretty much anyone who’s visited the station has gotten lost there at one time or another, due to its massive, labyrinthine, dungeon-like interior.

While most character mascots are given pride of place and promoted with large posters in busy areas, Tanutanu is a lot less prominent and therefore rather difficult to find at the station.

▼ Even if you Google “Shinjuku Station Tanutanu” in English and Japanese, you won’t find any information on the character.

If you want to find Tanutanu, you have to head to the side of the station where the New South Gate and Koshu Kaido Gate are located.

One of the reasons why Tanutanu flies under the radar is because there aren’t as many commuters using these gates, compared to the East and West exits at the station.

Tanutanu hunters will be rewarded with this poster near the New South Exit, which proclaims: “A new colleague has turned up at Shinjuku Station!!”

This is where you can find more details about Tanutanu, like the fact that it was born near Shinjuku Station, it likes to touch the fluffy white fur around its neck, and it has a ginkgo leaf, the symbol of Tokyo, on its head.

According to the poster, you can receive a special card related to the character if you ask staff at the ticket gate, so we did exactly that, and were delighted to receive a cute laminated card.

According to station staff, there are five types of cards available — Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Night. Autumn and Night are said to be particularly popular, so we asked for the Night option, which was beautifully illustrated.

There’s something so charming about the understated nature of these cards, and the character itself, that makes us fall in love Tanutanu even more. Especially when it’s in such stark contrast to the big, busy nature of the station it represents, and the giant billboards and 3-D cat that surrounds it.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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