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Transportation Showdown: Japanese Mascots’ Big Butts Vs. Train Doors

Categories: East Asia, Japan, Arts & Culture, Travel
Hyakumansan Ishikawa

Hyakuman-san. Screencap from Hot Ishikawa YouTube channel.

There is one Japanese mascot who is famous for having a large bottom. Earlier in November, Hyakuman-san [1], the official mascot of Ishikawa Prefecture, was unable to board the Hokuriku super express “bullet train.” The comical scene briefly made headlines.

Hyakuman-san can't get onto to the Hokuriku Shinkansen [4] (bullet train). Is this a design flaw?

Ishikawa Prefecture is part of the Hokuriku [5] (“northlands”) region of Japan. In April 2015, super express “shinkansen” train service started, linking the old castle town of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture [6] with Tokyo by high speed rail. As a mascot for Kanazawa and Ishikawa, it would seem reasonable that Hyakuman-san would be able to board the train.

The “problem” was covered on Japanese television.

Hyakuman-san is so big he can't board the bullet train, or even pass through the ticket gates.

Hyakuman-san himself is a mustachioed traditional “okiagari [9]” doll and good-luck charm [10], and is decorated in a traditional kaga-yuzen [11] pattern, common to the city of Kanazawa and the surrounding region.

I spent five hours in Kanazawa looking for Hyakuman-san souvenirs to take back home. Of course, the first thing I saw [wasn't Hyakuman-san at all], but Yutaro [14] [the local Japan Post mascot for Kanazawa] (꒪ȏ꒪)

I didn't have time to travel up to Wakura Onsen [a famous hot spring resort about an hour north of Kanazawa] so I went to the station platform to look at the train. The line-up for the buses in front of Kanazawa Station was as crowded as you would see in Kyoto.

The Hyakuman-san mascot can sometimes be seen in and around Kanazawa Station, where he delights travelers. His large bottom is clearly visible in this video:

It's Hyakuman-san! Here he comes again! Too funny! LOL

Design flaw or not, Hyakuman-san is not the only mascot who has a hard time entering trains or other confined spaces. Twitter user “Pink Miruku” has compiled a few photos that demonstrate the travails of Japan's plump mascots.