The Ikazukinzu are the official mascots of Hachinohe City. In a country known for its love of cute characters, almost every city, town, and village have their own special mascot that is designed to represent and promote the area. These mascots are called yurukyara in Japanese and offer interesting insights into the places they are supposed to embody.
The yurukyara or official mascot of Hachinohe is actually a family of four black-tailed gulls, the official bird of the city. Each member wears a squid shaped hood on their head, which is where the name Ikazukinzu comes from (Ika means squid and zukin means a type of cloth hood). Hachinohe is famous for its seafood, particularly its squid. The combination of these two city symbols, the gull and squid, are easily recognizable as emblems of Hachinohe and are a fun celebration of the city’s maritime culture.
The members of the Ikazukinzu family are easily discerned by their colors, the blue one is the papa ikazukinzu called Kabu-san, the pink one is the mama ikazukinzu called Shima-chan, the green one is their son called Kokabu-kun, and the yellow one is their daughter called Koumi-chan. Different family members can be seen at most major PR events in Hachinohe and images of the characters are used to decorate all kinds of things.
Although the family name of this group is a mouthful to say for most people and their design is initially puzzling for many visitors, the cuteness and quirkiness of the ikazukinzu have been known to win the hearts of people the world over. A range of memorabilia and ikazukinzu based goods are available at most souvenir shops in the area, so if you find yourself a fan of these cute mascots don’t forget to pick some up during your travels!