Japan has a mascot for just about everything, and the newest addition is Kan-chan, an adorable pink penguin from Tokyo-based Ichijiku Pharmaceutical Co. If you’re having trouble trying to figure out what Kan-chan is, we’ll help you out: this perky, kawaii little creature is... an enema.
Kan-chan gets her name from the Japanese word for enema, kancho, and her character is the result of an online competition Ichijiku Pharmaceutical held to create a new mascot for the company. Though Kan-chan’s physical appearance seems to be an obvious representation of the product the company specializes in, it tells RocketNews24 she is most certainly a penguin, not an enema, and the cap atop her head is “actually a hair accessory.” (Okay.)
There’s a long history of mascots, or yuru-chara, in Japan. Created to promote regions, places, businesses, or products, they are so ubiquitous within Japanese culture that certain prefectures have tried to enact mascot population control. "People do not know what they are promoting or what policy they are trying to raise awareness of," Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui told the Asahi Shimbun back in 2014.
Some yuru-chara are downright horrifying — what is this sentient yellow nightmare that’s supposed to be a cat? Or this bear that clearly has gum disease and appears to have been zombified by a fungal virus? (Sorry, that’s not a melon in my book.) At least Kan-chan is actually, you know, cute. And Ichijiku Pharmaceutical isn’t fooling anyone — she’s obviously an enema, and that’s okay! If her adorableness helps make talking about difficult medical things a little easier, we salute her, ahem, entrance into the world. As Kan-chan excitedly says in her debut tweet: “I’m planning to go to many places in the future.”