Atom, or Astro Boy as he is known in the West, takes the front cover of Idle Idol so we thought it was about time we had a look at the different designs of this iconic character.
The lick lipping pig outside restaurants cheerfully encouraging customers to take a bite can be seen all around the world. This is a collection of Death wish pigs found in Japan. We have pigs outside clothes shops in Yokohama’s China Town, Pigs above ramen restaurant door ways, outside a nikuman stall, made into a rubbish bin, disguised as a lantern and even outside a hairdressers.
Kyuta is a fireman from the future and the mascot for the Tokyo metropolitan fire department. Kyuta wears a blue helmet, which represents water, and a red suit, which represents his fearlessness; his yellow antenna lights up when he detects danger, and his chest is imprinted with the emergency telephone number.
Tawawa-chan awaits you inside Kyoto Tower and in Tokyo Tower there are the Noppon Brothers. Almost all the observation Towers in Japan have their own mascot. If they don’t have an Idle Idol they’ll almost certainly have a kigirumi (fur suit).
Pictured here is one pelican from a pair guarding a gaudy love hotel in Ikebukuro. I like the fact the two kanji used for Ikebukuro are literally pond and bag it almost sounds like an insult and somehow alludes to the seedy repuatation of the area.
In Japan KFC is an important place for Christmas. Many families visit the restaurant to eat the popular Christmas meal of deep fried chicken. So every year the colonel is dressed as Father Christmas to get people in the festive spirit. Throughout the year Colonel Sanders is dressed in other seasonal and unique outfits.
Just off the main road in Ginza, the cosmopolitan shopping area of Tokyo lies Shimizu Pharmacy. Like most drug stores in Tokyo they sell the usual products but as soon as you step into the shop you’ll notice two characters almost everywhere you look.
When it came to editing Idle Idol we ended up removing a whole section called Park attendants. They didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the mascots but it was really hard to remove such great characters. All over Japan these park animals brighten up small parks.
This is Higuchi-san the mascot for Higuchi Pharmacy. Like a lot of Idle Idols I’ve found he obviously decided his own image would make a great mascot. Its surprising how many fat middle aged company presidents have made the same choice.
They didn’t make it into the book but I do like these great signs spotted around Tokyo. The eyes madly rotate round and round outside various opticians and glasses shops.
I first spotted Ultraman in Odaiba, in a retro themed arcade shown left. I then found him proudly standing outside the Bandai headquarters who make Ultraman figures and toys. All the mascots have the distinctive yellow eyes and the red and silver costume. They also have a blue half sphere on their chest.
You can’t miss the little guy in Tokyo, hovering above police cars on the sides of houses, saluting pedestrians from construction site signs and waving at fans from the St Patricks day parade. But to see an ‘Idle Idol’ Pipo-kun you have to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Police museum in Ginza.
Tanuki a raccoon dog and also a mythical creature from Japanese folklore. They are known for their mischief, magical powers and the ability to shapeshift. Statues of jolly tanuki can be found outside many bars and restaurants, beckoning at customers and welcoming guests.
If you’ve ever visited Japan you will have seen him, the unmistakable grinning robotic cat. Doraemon is from the 22nd century, he came to present day earth to help the young Nobita, a young boy who is always getting picked on by bullies and shouted at by his teachers and parents.