When I was studying abroad in Japan last term, I quickly discovered how much Japan loved its mascots. I knew this beforehand, but I had yet to grasp just HOW MUCH Japan loved its mascots. Called “yuru-chara” (but pronounced closer to “yuru-kyara” in Japanese), these mascots represent and promote prefectures, cities, wards, companies, organizations, sports teams, events, YOU NAME IT. There’s even an annual Yuru-Chara Grand Prix!
Since most mascots are tied to regions and cities, I decided to try my hand at mapping them out onto Japan itself. In an ideal world, I would have the prefecture mascots linked to polygons of each prefecture with points for cities, organizational headquarters, buildings, etc., but I decided to start simple and work on a point-style map on ArcGIS. We also spent a little more time stylizing the points in ArcGIS than we did Corta so for a first draft of this map ArcGIS felt more comfortable.
I spent the most time trying to find the mascots in the first place (there’s no definitive list out there so I had to dig deep into my memory and do a LOT of google searches) and then organizing the information into a google sheet that could then be translated into layers the program could understand. Sparing you my trials and errors, I decided on two differently styles sheets:
Prefectures & Cities
– (Mascot) Name
– Image URL
– (Mascot) Name
– Building/Organization/Company (Name)
– Image URL
City Mascots were pretty easy to drop points on, but prefecture mascots I linked to the prefecture’s capitals to avoid being too vague. On the other hand, I dropped points for building mascots etc. via Latitude and Longitude. Because the Japanese and American address system is so different, I figured that would be the easiest way to get an accurate pin on the map.
By using two separate sheets (and therefore two separate layers on the map) I could indicate the location method separately, and make further edits and additions to either spreadsheet easier and faster to upload. There were some locations from the Prefectures/Cities sheet that couldn’t be found after rendering, which I think was caused by alternate spellings (the bane of my existence using map apps in Japan). I wish ArcGIS would flag those error-ed entries but it doesn’t so until I can go through one by one and see which are missing there will be a few missing points in my map.
Please check out my map on my website! I recommend playing around on the prefecture/cities scale before zooming into Kyoto and Tokyo. Try and find my favorite mascot, Tawawachan!
This tryptic of Tawawachan postcards is above my bed.
You can tell I REALLY like Tawawachan