Since the publication of the article on Chiitan and John Oliver, questions have arisen from readers asking what actually happened to Chiijohn afterwards and whether you can actually visit him in the city of Susaki.
In the season finale of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver looked back on the past season and highlighted the segment of Shinjo-kun, Chiitan and Chiijohn.
What was it about?
Chiitan, the otter with a turtle as a hat, is best known as the unofficial mascot of the city of Susaki in Kochi Prefecture. The mascot gained a lot of attention on social media with videos where Chiitan is trying to do some bizarre and dangerous challenges. The mascot costume is based on a real otter with the same name. This otter was a tourism ambassador for the city Susaki till earlier this year, when the otter got fired. What was the reason? After the many bizarre adventures of Chiitan, the residents of Susaki sent in complaints about the unofficial mascot because Chiitan wasn’t really promoting the city but acted extremely in videos that got posted on the social media. It was decided to sever ties with the official tourism ambassador Chiitan, the real otter.
The city of Susaki also has an official mascot, named Shinjo-kun, an otter with a ramen dish as a hat. The mascots Chiitan and Shinjo-kun look alike, although Shinjo-kun has a more serious face, while Chiitan has a mischievous one. It did spark some concern that it might cause a problem because they looked alike. The mascots did do some adventures together, but the mayor of Susaki mentioned that the behaviour of Chiitan was having a negative effect on Shinjo-kun’s work. As Shinjo-kun did appear in several videos and photos with Chiitan, to show their partnership but also show the influence of Chiitan on the official city mascot.
In a segment of Last Week Tonight earlier this year, viewers could see that Shinjo-kun is now lonely without the silly mascot Chiitan. The television program decided to make an unofficial mascot with the name ChiiJohn, a 45-year-old English fairy baby with glasses, who flown to Susaki to meet up with Shinjo-kun. Eventually Chiijohn would have stayed in Susaki. This episode of Last Week Tonight triggered a counter-reaction in which Chiitan challenged John Oliver to a fight. This was received in a nice way by John Oliver and fans of the television programme and the mascot. Chiitan’s Twitter account was eventually suspended in Japanese and later also in English. Despite a digital protest by means of a petition, the twitter accounts never came back and Chiitan is now active on a new account in the Japanese and English. It is unclear how the fight between Chiitan and John Oliver ended.
By now Chiijohn would be in Susaki, since John Oliver had indicated that the city had taken over the property of the new mascot and if you wanted to meet the mascot, you would have to go to the city of Susaki. In the video published today on the YouTube channel of Last Week Tonight, it can be seen that John Oliver yearns for some positivity after a tough year and tried to make contact with Shinjo-kun and Chiijohn. This resulted in a short film titled The Journey Of Chiijohn, chapter 2 which shows how the two mascots are in Susaki and eventually came to the United States to meet John Oliver. It resulted in a video with several funny notes in which Shinjo-kun and Chiijohn go in search of John Oliver, but experience several setbacks before finally getting together with the presenter.
Meanwhile, there is a short video on Twitter saying that Shinjo-kun and Chiijohn have already gone back to Susaki, but reveal a little secret of how part of the above video was filmed, namely the part of the plane journey. But whether you can really meet Chiijohn in Susaki is actually unknown.
— しんじょう君Shinjo-kun🌏2/7,3月毎週観光列車 (@susaki_city_PR) November 18, 2019
Mascots are big in Japan
Mascots, also known as yuru-chara, are a big thing in Japan. Many municipalities all over Japan have their own, but also several companies and sports teams. Even T.M. Revolution has its own mascot, named Turbo-kun. The costume design of the mascots are based on what suits the organisations, a local product or recognisable building, or even a wild animal, but can also be a mix of all this. Some big-headed mascots look not that conventional and can be seen as silly, but most are seen as cute and fun by the people. Such mascots are good for the promotion of tourism. For example, the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, Kumamon, is very popular and generated economic benefits for his region in the first few years after Kumamon was chosen as the mascot in 2010. It is possible to find his image on several products in shops, from keychains to clothing. His popularity grew after the big earthquake struck Kumamoto in 2016. While every year new mascots come to life in Japan, others have to say goodbye for several reasons. It is interesting to see how some mascots are taking over the world, instead of focussing to promote their company or municipality.
Source: Last Week Tonight