Aarian Marshall is a transportation reporter at WIRED and former CityLab contributor. She lives in San Francisco.
There’s one for every prefecture.
An online crowdfunding contest is giving Japanophiles an opportunity to vote for their favorite “local monster.” Japanese municipal mascots may be no more, but the “Gotuchi Kaiju” characters and toys were created to represent the regions from whence they came. There’s one for each of the country’s prefectures.
These local monsters are working for a nice cause: the environment. The Japan Times reports that the monster with the most online votes come December 18 will win money for green causes for his or her prefectures. The winning monster will also be used in a video game.
Which is all a pretext say: Meet these amazing monsters!
This is Dokira. He (or she?) is from the Niigata Prefecture. The coastal region is a trade hub that’s also known for its Jomon-era pottery, which dates back to about 3,000 CE. No wonder Dokira looks a lot like a Jomon pot, and spits hot fire at his enemies.
Another! Here is Tamagonodon, native of the island prefecture of Hokkaido. Perhaps it will not surprise you to learn that the northern region is dotted with egg farms.
Hello to Suginodon, the tree monster of Kagoshima. This southern tip of Japan is home to an extensive cedar forest and some of the the country’s oldest trees. The prefecture’s Yaku Island is a World Heritage Site; fear Suginodon’s chilling pollen attack.
May a higher power help you should you ever run into Gorubaggu, native of Fukushima. The area is full of golf courses, so Gorubaggu may pull one of the iron putters out of its hinged maw to slice you up.
This “fresh fish monster” is named Sabasabalar, and it hails from the fishing center of Kochi. Sabasabalar really, really doesn’t like when people pollute the ocean, and it will use its heavy tail to skewer litterbugs’ bodies.
Travel to the Nara prefecture to meet Shinrock. The prefecture’s Nara Park is famous for its wild bands of sika deer. For some Nara residents, the deer are sacred. But Shinrock’s horns are decidedly unfriendly.
There are more monsters—so many more. Spend your day exploring, and learning tons about Japan at in the process, at the “local monsters” website.