The legendary Akabeko cow and the toy it inspired

Akabeko is a legendary cow from the Aizu region of Japan, who inspired a traditional toy made of painted and lacquered papier-mâché, and now one of Fukushima Prefecture's most famous crafts. According to legend, Akabeko was a cow whose refusal to leave the construction site of a temple in Fukushima turned it into a symbol for zealous devotion to the Buddha. Many years later, rumor spread during a smallpox outbreak in Japan that those who owned the toy were spared from the disease. Its association with good health and fortune, combined with its humorous appearance and bobbing head (a string mechanism holds the head suspended to the body, making it bob up and down at the slightest movement) has made Akabeko a fixture in many Japanese homes and a favorite for children.

etomjapon | © PIXTA

Akabeko becomes even more legendary in a capsule toy

In 2019, capsule toy maker Qualia Co., Ltd. and interesting goods and gadgets maker 妄想工作所 mōsō kōsakujo collaborated on capsule toy series called 「神獣ベコたち」shinjū beko-tachi, which can be translated as "Mythical Bekos." They became very popular on social media and were a hit toy. Now, they are getting an upgrade with gold paint instead of white, giving them an even more "legendary" look.

Literally, 神獣 shinjū is written with the ideographs for "god" (kami) and "creature" ( or kedamono). In Japan, it designates mythical creatures like dragons or 麒麟kirin (also the inspiration for the name of a certain beer), but it can also refer to similar creatures in other cultures, for example, ancient Greece.

Therefore, shinjū beko-tachi toys imagined a fusion between Beko and legendary creatures, mostly from Greek mythology, such as Cerberos, Minotaur, Pegasus, the unicorn, and Chimera, shown pictured below:

©(株)妄想工作所/Qualia | © PR Times, Inc.

There's also a secret one. Since they are capsule toys, you won't know what you get until you buy it. You can see the other "Mythical Bekos" in the new series here:

There's the three-headed Beko ケルベコス CerBecos, the ユニべコーン UniBecorn, the キマイラベコ Chimera Beko, the ミノタウベコ MinotauBeco and the ベコサス Bekosus.

You can also get a closer look in this promotional video:

Product Information

  • Name (JP): 「神獣ベコたち 改」
  • Translation: New "Mythical Beko" collection
  • Goes on sale: December 23rd, 2020
  • Price: 300 JPY (total of 6 types)
  • Materials: ATBC-PVC, iron
  • Product Page

By - Ben K.