Olympic characters face stiff competition in mascot-mad Japan

Mascot-mad Japan, TOKYO 2021
Mascot-mad Japan, TOKYO 2021 © Juliette Montilly - AFP

Tokyo 2020's cutesy Olympic mascots are plastered across the host city, but they have some serious competition in mascot-mad Japan, where cuddly characters promote everything from prisons to health screenings. In the land of Hello Kitty and Pokémon, adorable creatures give a friendly face to private businesses and public institutions alike, and the most successful have full-on celebrity status.