At this point, nobody is a stranger to Japan's love of mascots. Heck, just a few months ago we showed you that the mascot boom had gotten so big that Japan's annual mascot contest, the Yuru Yuru Grand Prix, now had mascot representatives of foreign countries! Winning the contest is nothing to laugh at either--coming out as top mascot can lead to a mountain of merchandising opportunities, as evidenced by the now international powerhouse Kumamon, who is still milking glory from his 2011 campaign.


Source: s-bellkochan

So it's no surprise that every prefecture was gunning for the honor of hosting the 2015 Yuru Yuru Character Grand Prix title. "Yuru" means gentle, but there's nothing timid about the passion shown in this competition. Prefecture's really outdid themselves, entering mascot representatives who typically featured traits that showed off the famous specialties and goods of their local towns. It was a grueling three day battle featuring over 1,700 contestants, but without further ado, let's look at the final top three!

3. Fukachan


Source: Yuru-gp

Fukachan is the cross-between a dog and a deer from Saitama prefecture's, Fukaya city. His hat is modeled after Fukaya onions (leeks), and he wears badges made from tulips, both of which the city is famous for. While this is his last challenge for the Grand Prix, he leaves no regrets--finishing in the top three two years in a row!

2. Mikyan


Source: Yuru-gp

Ehime prefecture is famous for their mikan (mandarin oranges), so it's no surprise that their mascot is a big ball of orange and citrusy cuteness (combined with a dog). He aims to bring a smile to the whole country, and his jumping up from last year's third place spot is proof that he's doing just that!

And first place goes to...

1. Ieyasu-kun!


Source: Yuru-gp

That's right, Japan's 2015 mascot champion is modeled after the great shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who lived in the mascot's hometown of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture for several years. He is a funny amalgamation of the prefecture's famous foods and sites--his hair is a Hamanako Eel (a local delicacy), he wears a piano design on his clothing (Hamamatsu is known as the City of Music, because it houses instrument manufacturers such as Yamaha and Roland), mikan badges, and the blue and green on his clothing are the colors of the Tenryu river, lake Hamanako, and the forests that cover a majority of the city.

So there you have it! Congrats to Ieyasu-kun, who broke the mold of the cutesy and fluffy with his old Japanese man style. Watch his underdog coronation in the video below, and you'll see that you don't need to be an animal to be adorable.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.