Japan loves a mascot. Called ‘yuruchara’, these characters help promote cities or prefectures for tourism or PR purposes. Companies, sports teams and other institutions often also have their own. Most are predictably adorable, take for instance the winner of last year’s ‘Yuru Chara Grand Prix’, Shinjo-kun.

Cute, right!?

But in a bid to stand out, some mascots have subverted the usual kawaii-ness in favour of something a bit stranger. They are definitely memorable, but is it for the right reasons? Take a look at this list and decide for yourself!

1. Baron Ciste (Mukawa, Hokkaido)

Yes, this is exactly what this small town needs to promote themselves. Dapper and Terrifying.

2. Melon Bear (Yubari, Hokkaido)

#メロン熊 #ひろしです #キャラダイス#グランドプリンスホテル新高輪#melonkuma#melon #bear #yubari

メロン熊さん(@yubarimelonkuma)がシェアした投稿 -

If the others on this list are creepy then Melon-guma looks positively blood-thirsty. Despite having a melon on his head, they went for a weirdly realistic bear face. It's popular for those meeting him to place their head inside his blood-dripping maw.

#メロン熊 #松下唯#melonkuma#melon #bear #yubari

メロン熊さん(@yubarimelonkuma)がシェアした投稿 -

3. Mysterious Fish (Chiba Lotte Marines Baseball Team)

On the surface he doesn't look too weird. Kind of cute, even. But watch the video to see his disturbing party trick. It's two mascots in one I guess.

4. Sento-kun (Nara Prefecture)

Sento-kun took the two most loved aspects of Nara, the roaming deer and the historic Buddhist temples and managed to make a bit of a mess of both of them. Although most of the others on the list seem to have purposely taken a subversive route, it seems they actually intended for Sento-kun to be cute. At any rate he received mixed reviews and was even called blasphemous.

5. Zariganihta (Niigata)

こんにちザリザリー! #ザリガニータ #ガッター

ひでじさん(@hidever2)がシェアした投稿 -

This guy looks like a crayfish supervillain from a 90s kids show and it’s actually kind of great. Despite being an odd choice he even made it into the mascot grand prix ranking. He didn’t win though. Curses! Foiled again!

6. Okazaemon (Okazaki, Aichi)

Okazaemon is a classic creepy mascot. It's hard to pinpoint, but something about him just screams wrong. Maybe it's the limp costume, or the fact his normal-person shoes are visibly poking out, or it could be that his hands often appear to be dirt-stained.

7. Dahayama Mintaro (Minmin Daha)

Minmin Daha sell caffeine drinks to keep hard-working people going through the night. Their mascot is a terrifying body-suited being with an oversized head.

8. Gajiro (Fukusawa, Hyogo)

Gajiro wins for pure, unadulterated horror. Gajiro is a mythical creature called a kappa, but he's nothing like the cute kappa statues you may see around. With his amphibious, gaping jaw, his scraggly human-like hair and seeming lack of skin, he seems more suited to a scary film than promoting Fukusawa.

Maybe that's why their PR video is a comedic mock horror movie starring their feared mascot.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.