A recognizable feature of Japanese culture is the abundance of mascots and characters used in things such as advertisements, or commercials. Unlike in America, where mascots are mostly used for schools or sports teams, in Japan, they can be seen everywhere.
There is actually a lot of historical elements linked to this mascot culture. Anthropomorphism was very integrated into Japanese societies dating back as for as 1573. In Shintoism, for example, which is an ethnic religion, it is believed that everything, animals, objects, even the universe, has a soul. Animals and nature itself are believed to be messengers of the gods. So, much of the folklore from this time contains stories in which animals and, though it was less common, at times objects would act and think as humans would. At first, many of these tales were told solely through drawings and paintings, but as they became more and more popular during the middle ages, stories featuring animal protagonists were eventually taken to the theater. People would dress up as these anthropomorphic characteristics and act out the stories and tales told in their folklore.
Today, these mascots have become almost essential in tourism and commercialism for Japan’s society. In 1975 a small vinyl coin purse featuring a small white cat with a red bow began being sold all over Japan. Hello Kitty rapidly rose to fame and is now the Japan’s official tourism mascot and ambassador. She quickly became a beloved character and was the first of many mascots to come, and popularity for such characters only grew.
Mascots became standard in towns, cities, and even government agencies. Japan has 47 subdivisions which are known as prefects, and each one has their own, if not multiple, mascots. Eventually, individual or groups of characters even began getting their own themed cafes or parks.