Speaking of Funassyi’s talent at doing shokurepo, food...

We Love Funassyi - Wed, 2015-05-06 20:14

Speaking of Funassyi’s talent at doing shokurepo, food reports (previously): Funassyi appeared as a guest along with actor and fellow Funabashian Atsushi Ito in the Bistro SMAP segment of the variety show SMAP x SMAP, where 4 of the SMAP members cook something for the guests. Funassyi totally charms the SMAP guys, who seem a bit skeptical to begin with (although at least 2 of them have appeared with Fiunassyi before on other variety shows).

During the eating part (the theme was “pasta dishes cooked with ingredients grown or caught in Funabashi”), Funassyi is way better than his co-guest at describing how the food tastes and so on, even though he has to have it “installed” in small bowls through his Illusion. (Funassyi has worked on not looking so weird and lifeless when he’s eating since this appearance, by the way.) Notice also how the SMAP guys are astonished at how hot it is inside the suit - one of them says it’s like being in a stone sauna.

After Funassyi’s segment, a group of other yuru chara appear on stage, and play a little game of “guess my name” with the SMAP members. The last one who looks like a black spotted crocodile is called Kurokodaira, and is an unofficial mascot from Kodaira, a suburban city in Tokyo. It’s another talking yuru chara, who has achieved some success since this appearance.

Confession time: This episode is what started me on the road to becoming a fully fledged Funassyi fan. I know, pretty late! I was aware of Funassyi before that of course, but didn’t pay a lot of attention. But after this I started searching for more videos of Funassyi…and became a total convert.

(Note: The video that I originally posted of the full episode has been taken down, as has the account that posted it. I don’t know if my linking it had anything to do with it…but just in case, I have replaced it with a video showing a short segment from the show. There are many copies of the episode available out there for you to discover on your own.)

A question was posed to Japanese women who are the primary cooks in their house...

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-06 19:59
A question was posed to Japanese women who are the primary cooks in their households - "What dishes did you learn how to make from your mother?" No. 3 was miso soup. Can you guess what nos. 1 and 2 were? (This was a question on a quiz show.)

(The answer is in the next post - )

This opinion piece on All About (the Japanese equivalent of...

We Love Funassyi - Wed, 2015-05-06 18:01

This opinion piece on All About (the Japanese equivalent of, although I believe they are no longer related) is another “Why is Funassyi so popular and why does his popularity continue” type of article. Similar articles have been poppoing up quite a lot in the last couple of months.

While each article has a different take, this one focuses on Funassyi’s ability to “cross the line” between being a mascot in a padded suit, and admitting with a wink that there is a human being inside the suit. Many mascots, whether they are yuru/gotouchi chara or not, maintain the strict illusion that they are actually the character they are dressed up as, but Funassyi often lets the Inner Funassyi as it were peek through. Whether that peek inside is via something he says or literal, any fan who is older than the age to still believe in Santa Claus knows and rather enjoys the fact that there’s a person inside Funassyi who is really working his ass off. It makes people want to root for Funassyi even more as an individual.

One of the things that Funassyi does regularly that really “crosses the line” is food reports. Called shokurepo (食レポ), this is a segment on many variety or light news type shows where entertainers, celebrities and so on go to restaurants and other food establishments like bakeries, eat the food and say how it tastes, are extremely popular in Japan. While Funassyi can’t eat anything from his mouth, he gets around this limitation by having people “install” things into his Illusion - the zipper on his back. Here is musician and TV personality Daigo putting a bowl of food into Funassyi’s Illusion on an episode of Kayou Sapuraizu (Tuesday Surprise). 

Funassyi is actually very good at commenting on the food intelligently (most of the TV personalities who do this kind of thing only know how to say “oishii! (delicious)” “amai! (sweet)” and “yawarakai! (soft/tender)” it seems).

The author also thinks that Funassyi’s wit and humor when he speaks is much better than that of an average “geinin” - a term that covers comedians and the like, who dominate the airwaves on Japanese TV. I tend to agree with that. I’m not quite sure I agree with all of the author’s opinons (he says that Funassyi’s movements are like those of a hamster…??) but it’s an interesting article nonetheless.

An article I wrote for Cultures and Cuisines about Kamishibai, "paper theater".

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-06 17:49
An article I wrote for Cultures and Cuisines about Kamishibai, "paper theater".

Nearly Forgotten: The Japanese Kamishibai Man
It was a different Japan, instead of TV or iPads, children listened to street-side storytellers who sold penny candy and acted out stories in front of paper sets. Bestselling cookbook author Makiko Itoh remembers the Kamishibai Man.

Niwassyi describes himself as a “father, gardening...

We Love Funassyi - Wed, 2015-05-06 13:25

Niwassyi describes himself as a “father, gardening enthusiast and Funassyi fan”. He makes these terrific stone garden sculptures of Funassyi and Funagoro, all hand-cut. While the sculptures usually reside in his beautiful garden, Niwassyi (the “Niwa” part means “garden”) also takes them around occasionally and takes photos of them in various Funassyi-related locations. The 3rd photo for example is taken at the bridge where Funassyi famously danced to Call Me Maybe back in November 2012. The last photo is his most recent sculpture, a work in progress.

You can follow Niwassyi on Twitter or on his blog. He doesn’t sell any of his sculptures…although I wish he would!

(The yellow Funassyi in the top photo isn’t made of stone; it looks like the limited edition poseable Funassyi plush which was sold by Grey Parka Service, one of the companies that makes licensed Funassyi products, in February. It retailed for around 7,000 yen originally and is now sold on the secondary market for around twice that amount. It’s about 30cm tall.)

Funassyi seems to be holding a Nyaossyi doll in the top photo...

We Love Funassyi - Wed, 2015-05-06 11:01

Funassyi seems to be holding a Nyaossyi doll in the top photo posted yesterday. Maybe this means that stuffed-toy versions of the characters from his anime series Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori will be available soon. (Edit: As pointed out in a comment it may actually be Penguin Funassyi, inspired by his Antarctica adventures… it looked like a cat to me, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking ^_^;)

Funassyi also “tweeted that he enjoyed his GW* holiday by spending a whole day at a manga kissa and reading his way through 30 manga books. He called it a "really productive day nassyi!” It’s great to hear that he finally got a little time off! (I’m not sure if the bottom photo is from the manga kissa in question - if it is it’s a lot better looking than any manga kissa I’ve been to!)

*GW usually stands for Golden Week, a week in late April to early May where a number of Japan’s national holidays are concentrated. A lot of people take the whole week off, and it’s the biggest travel time of the year. For some reason Funassyi was calling it “Gonzales Wireless” though, which may become the new way for Funatomo to call Golden Week…

Screenshots from episode 28 (week 6, episode 3) of Funassyi no...

We Love Funassyi - Wed, 2015-05-06 02:36

Screenshots from episode 28 (week 6, episode 3) of Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori (Funassyi’s Funafunafu Days). A caterpillar on Funassyi’s leaf!

Funassyi is enjoying himself in a flowery meadow…and Guressyi is lurking behind, up to no good as usual. Guressyi sees a caterpillar chomping on a leaf and gets an idea…he puts it on Funassyi’s head leaf. When Funassyi gets home and sees his leaf being eaten, he totally freaks out! Guressyi looks in from a window, chuckling in evil glee. But when Funassyi calms down, he realizes that the caterpillar is really eating for all its worth, and decides to just let it be. After a while Funassyi notices a change in his leaf. The wrinkled looking leaf opens and a butterfly emerges. Funassyi and Nyaossyi watch in delight as the butterfly flits away, and even Guressyi looks on in awe.

I wish I could post more screenshots, especially of Funassyi’s freakout scene! When Funassyi and Guressyi are both in an episode there are so many great expressions from both of them.

This is the article I wrote for the Milan Expo. (They misspelled my name though....

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Wed, 2015-05-06 01:12
This is the article I wrote for the Milan Expo. (They misspelled my name though....grrrrrrr)

Japan embraces global cuisines in 'washoku' culture | The Japan Times
Japanese cuisine has never been as popular around the world as it is now. Sushi is available in the most unexpected places, and dishes like tempura, sashim

Funassyi and Funassyi-themed items are available for a limited...

We Love Funassyi - Tue, 2015-05-05 14:18

Funassyi and Funassyi-themed items are available for a limited time in a world-building type game called Hoshi no Shima no Nyanko (ほしの島にゃんこ)on iOS and Android. The game is available on the Japan stores for each platform only. I believe the English version of this game is Meow Meow Star Acres, but the Funassyi items aren’t available in that unfortunately. If you can figure out how to get the Japanese version, the links are on this page, along with pictures of some of the extremely cute Funassyi items.

Screenshots from episode 27 (week 6, episode 2) of Funassyi no...

We Love Funassyi - Tue, 2015-05-05 02:41

Screenshots from episode 27 (week 6, episode 2) of Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori (Funassyi’s Funafunafu Days). Funassyi bakes a cake!

Funassyi and his friend decide to make a birthday cake for their friend Hiro-chan*. Being a pear and a boy they make a huge mess, but they eventually manage to finish. Hiro-chan is so happy, and the bakers are even happier! The pear-vacuum-robot vacuums up the mess on the floor, and Nyaossyi naps peacefully on another sunny day in the pear-orchard…

*The little girl who has been a recurring character (we first met her when Funassyi tried to retrieve her lost balloon in the playground) has been given a name, which I think is Hiro-chan, but could be Hira-chan Update: It seems her name is actually Hina-chan. (Funassyi’s a bit hard to understand sometimes ^_^;) The little boy doesn’t have a name yet. (We met him when Funassyi went chasing after his cap for him and ended up in New York.) Funassyi in a head scarf is another adorable sight in this sunny, happy episode.

Funassyi’s Next Big Adventure Will Be In Space!?Funassyi and the...

We Love Funassyi - Mon, 2015-05-04 14:30

Funassyi’s Next Big Adventure Will Be In Space!?

Funassyi and the producer of the Antarctica program on Fuji TV sat down for an interview for the Sankei Shimbun newspaper, which was published on Saturday, May 2, 2015. The title of the article is 「ふなっしー」の人気が衰えない理由 「次は宇宙へ」も厭わぬ獅子奮迅 - roughly translated, “The reasons why Funassyi’s popularity is not fading - He’s even fearless about going to space next”.

The headline comes from an exchange between Funassyi and Fukano, the producer. Funassyi says “surely [the Antarctica adventure] has to be the last in this series” (the program has made Funassyi skydive, swim with manta rays, go on a stunt place and do 360 degree spins and more), to which the producer says “absolutely not, we have more projects in mind”. Funassyi counters with “The only place to go after Antartica is space!” to which the producer replies “That’s one of the projects have on the slate.” While it’s not likely that Funassyi is going to space anytime soon, who knows - if it becomes feasible financially and logistically…

The article goes on to ask Funassyi why he think he didn’t end up as a flash in the pan, and still remains popular 2 years after his big break. Funassyi says that he had heard from his fans that they like to turn to him when they are feeling sad or depressed, to cheer themselves up. He recounts a story told to him by the mayor of Funabashi about a 101 old woman who lives surrounded by Funassyi goods. Asked if they were for a grandchild, she said “Oh no, they’re mine, I love [Funassyi].” Funassyi says in the article that with fans like that, he has to keep trying to make people happy.

Funassyi also recounts how hard the Antarctica shoot was, especially being away for 3 weeks. Although the food on the ship looked fairly decent on TV, it wasn’t to Funassyi’s taste (in another interview, he said he had tears in his eyes when he has a bowl of miso ramen after coming home, and felt it “sink all the way into my pear core”). When someone gave Funassyi some furikake, savory sprinkles that are usually put on plain rice, it tasted like magic powder to him. 

The photo is from Funassyi’s Twitter - it’s from the Antarctica show, showing the star-filled sky behind Funassyi.

Mâché salad, one of the pleasures of spring

Facebook JustBento-JustHungry - Mon, 2015-05-04 12:54
Mâché salad, one of the pleasures of spring

Five “Yuru Kyara” Mascots

We Love Funassyi - Mon, 2015-05-04 11:53
Five “Yuru Kyara” Mascots: Someone pointed me to this article on They end with Funassyi,...

Screenshots from episode 26 (week 6, episode 1) of Funassyi no...

We Love Funassyi - Mon, 2015-05-04 03:26

Screenshots from episode 26 (week 6, episode 1) of Funassyi no Funafunafu na Biyori (Funassyi’s Funafunafu Days). Funassyi and cats, cats, cats!

Funassyi opens the door one morning, and finds his pear-house surrounded by cats! They are Nyaossyi’s friends, who have come to visit. At first Funassyi is happy to see that Nyossyi has so many friends, but the cats start to get rambuncious, tossing a ball around and so on, until one knocks over a vase. Funassyi fixes them all with what looks like an evil-eye Nashijiru bushaa! But in the end, with Nyoassyi’s intervention, Funassyi surrenders himself to the cats…

Here are some screenshots of Funassyi’s Antarctica...

We Love Funassyi - Sun, 2015-05-03 22:57

Here are some screenshots of Funassyi’s Antarctica adventures program, although they barely do justic to the spectacular footage that was shown. My favorite sequences are Funassyi on an iceberg (images 1 and 2), and Funassyi climbing up a hill to reach a peak on the the continent of Antarctica for the ultimate view. (the last 4 images). He stumbled and fell down while he was struggling up, which brought home how hard this assignment must have been for him physically.

Almost 2 hours out of the 3 hour special were dedicated to the Antarctica trip plus a few minutes from Argentina (Funassyi in a gaucho outfit is too adorable for words, especially when he’s dancing a tango), but they also cut out a lot of great looking scenes (although some of that was aired during the promo programs that led up to Sunday). I don’t know why they didn’t dedicate the whole 3 hours to the trip (they also had a ‘trick photo’ part with comedy duo 8.6 Seconds Bazooka among other things). In addition, the editing felt a bit rushed - maybe if they had had a few more months, it would have been even better, but they probably had to air it during Golden Week, which is the biggest holiday period of the year in Japan. I really hope that a DVD will be issued that includes all the bits that got cut, no in-studio chatter and a few more quiet moments with just Funassyi, Antony and Antarctica.

Funassyi will be live tweeting when the 3-hour Antarctica...

We Love Funassyi - Sun, 2015-05-03 06:03

Funassyi will be live tweeting when the 3-hour Antarctica adventure program airs later today at 7pm Japan time. Funassyi’s live tweet view-alongs are always a lot of fun. Since Funassyi will probably be looking at the tweets coming his way then, why not tell him you’re a fan and where you’re from? ^_^ Funassyi’s Twitter account is @funassyi, in case you’re not following him already.

As of today, Funassyi’s Twitter follower count has gone...

We Love Funassyi - Sat, 2015-05-02 22:41

As of today, Funassyi’s Twitter follower count has gone over 1.3 million (1,300,608 as of this writing). This is by far the most followers any gotouchi chara has. The account has been gaining roughly 50,000 followers a month or so since February, when I started to keep an eye on the numbers. The overseas media often states that Funassyi gained fame via funny YouTube accounts, but he’s actually used Twitter a lot more, both to communicate with fans and to spread the Word of Funassyi. There’s no doubt either that Funassyi tweets all his tweets himself.

For what it’s worth, here are the top 5 gotouchi chara Twitter accounts ranked by the number of followers they have:

  1. Funassyi (1.3 million followers)
  2. Kumamon (366K followers)
  3. Barysan (178K followers)
  4. Chi-ba kun (111K followers)
  5. Chicchai Ossan (105K followers)

Kumamon and Barysan at no.2 and no.3 may not be surprising, since they are very popular yuru-chara who have been around for several years. But both Twitter accounts are actually entertaining to read. The Kumamon account posts lots of fun photos, and the Kumamoto-dialect tweets, which usually end with ’-mon’, are often very funny. The ratio of PR tweets vs. just fun tweets is pretty good. Barysan’s Twitter account is a bit more official and proper perhaps, but still fun to read.

Chi-ba kun, the official gotouchi chara of Chiba prefecture, at no. 4 is a bit surprising. But this again is a Twitter account that a lot of thought and effort is put into. Chi-ba kun’s tweets are packed with interesting trivia and other information about Chiba.

Chicchai Ossan (Small Middle Aged Man) is one of the few talking characters besides Funassyi. He is also an unofficial character, although there is a management and production company behind him. However I did notice that his account seems to have lost some followers recently, unlike the others in the top 5.

Other well known yuru/gotouchi chara Twitter accounts with more than 20K followers are Shimanekko (56.4K followers), Nishiko kun (54.3K followers), Fukka chan (45.1K followers) and Okazaemon (27.2K followers).

One account to possibly keep an eye on in the yuru chara arena is that of actor Seiichi Tanabe, who has 558K followers. He’s recently launched a yuru chara based on one of his very “yurui” (loose) drawings called Mocchii. Mocchii is supposed to be a “cool looking dog”, who looks lke a square piece of mochi (a pounded sticky rice cake); it too is a talking character, and ends its sentences with “mochii-”. While Tanabe already had lots of followers before the introduction of Mocchii, that many Twitter followers is a big base to market the character to.

(The illustration above is from Funassyi’s children’s picture book, Funassyi Who Was Born From A Pear - Nashi Kara Umareta Funassyi; なしからうまれたふなっしー )

The Funassyi in Antarctica program is airing tomorrow, Sunday,...

We Love Funassyi - Sat, 2015-05-02 09:40

The Funassyi in Antarctica program is airing tomorrow, Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 7pm Japan time on Fuji TV. It will be a 3-hour special, and judging from the promo programs that have been airing all week, it should be quite spectacular and a whole lot of fun too. The video above is a segment that aired on the Mesamashi TV morning news program on Friday. (It’s not very good quality, but if it was I’m guessing Fuji TV would have gotten it taken down already…) If you want to try the find the program somewhere you’re on your own I’m afraid…but the program title is as follows:

世界ベスト・オブ・映像ショー 頂上リサーチふなっしーが南極上陸SP

Sekai Best Of Eizo Show - Chojo Research Funassyi ga Nankyoku Joriku SP (Special)

(It means: The Best Videos In The World Show - The Ultimate Research Funassyi Lands On Antarctica Special )

some of my flickr photos