Japan Sketchbook

I find that when you’re working on a particular theme, you always start noticing things that relate to it more than usual. It’s as if being in Japan has taken this phenomenon and magnified it a hundred times: I’m seeing avatars everywhere I look. I’ve been interested in the mascots that companies have for a while, it seems strange for a cute mouse-elf to represent the Tokyo police, but it seems to work for them. Lots of people here have toys hanging from their bags and charms on their phones, it seems to be just an extension of the kind of personalisation you get with screensavers and ringtones, although I did read that it might be some kind of modern-day version of Netsuke, the toggle for a sash cord.

We’ve already seen that you can get leisure suits based on popular cartoon characters, (perhaps another kind of update on the Yukata robes) we went to a shop that sold lots of varieties (Hello Kitty, Stitch, Pooh Bear etc) and I had to at least buy a Pikachu hat to celebrate.

I also noticed that lots of the toys in the shop were of well-known characters “wearing” costumes of other cartoon creatures, which is something that makes my head hurt in a good way. Perhaps we’re already avatars, and having characters to represent us in games is just a way of hiding this, or preferably a way to accept it and work out how to have fun with it.


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