It really is thick-skinned.

In Saitama Prefecture lies the humble city of Kawaguchi. At a time when the foundry industry was thriving around the middle of the 20th century, this city was at the forefront of metal casting.

It was said that up until the 80s the skyline of the city was heavily dotted by the coke fires of its many small blast furnaces that resemble smoke stacks — known as cupolas.

▼ Kawaguchi was the setting for the 1962 drama The City Where Cupolas Are (Kyupora no Aru Machi).

Those flames have since been replaced by the twinkling lights of condominiums as the industry has shrunk drastically over the years, but the spirit of the art still burns brightly in Kawaguchi. This is perhaps illustrated best by its regional yuru-kyara mascot Cupolan.

Cupolan was created in 2011, having beat out over 800 other mascot concepts, as an anthropomorphic cupola with a K on its chest declaring his desire to be the star of Kawaguchi. Not only has the mascot appeared to have achieved that, but it has even been gaining popularity outside of its hometown. Cupolan’s first outing in the nationwide Yuru-kyara Grand Prix vote in 2012 put it in a distant 726th place, but by 2016 it shot up to 24th place.

However, fame is always a double-edged sword, and in Cupolan’s case its brown, concentrically rounded head led some to assume that it’s just a big lump of crap. Some comments found on social media over the years include the following:

“I was on the train and at a station was the super-ugly mascot Cupolan. It totally looks like poop.”
“Kawaguchi’s mascot Cupolan is called poop by junior high kids because of its color.”
“The poop of Kawaguchi City! Cupolan has appeared lol.”
“Cupolan is cute, but when I saw it I thought it was a turd because it was at the City Water Office.”
“Cupolan totally looks like crap.”
“It’s only the 3-D Cupolan that looks like that. In illustrations it’s easy to see what it is.”

Indeed, looking at 2-D illustrations of Cupolan there is no mistaking that its at least some sort of industrial equipment. You’d probably be more likely to mistake it for a pepper mill that a piece of poo.

However, yuru-kyara mascots usually have soft and rounded features, which certainly gives a fecal air to Cupolan’s look. It also doesn’t help that poop mascots aren’t unheard of in Japan at all.

▼ The Russian Olympic Committee gold-medalist swimming team was gifted Cupolan dolls. Hopefully someone explained what it was to them.

Nevertheless, being constantly compared to crap on social media has to take a mental toll on anyone. But Cupolan proved that it has nerves of steel by playing into the hate and paying a visit to the Kawaguchi Science Museum during its special Poop Exhibit as an intentional tongue-in-cheek joke.

So, clearly Cupolan and the officials at Kawaguchi are taking his likeness to crap in stride. The mascot is now in its 10th year and going as strong as ever with merchandise sales reportedly up nearly twice as much as the previous year.

It’s just a shame that mascots were prohibited from the Olympic torch run, because Cupolan would have been perfect for it.

Source: Cupolan No Heya, Yomiuri Shimbun
Top image: YouTube/川口市きゅぽらん
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!