Rugby ‘It’s a dominatrix with an onion’

Rugby ‘It’s a dominatrix with an onion’

Rugby This is another astonishing item!

Rugby Ren-GImage copyright
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When the mascots of the 2019 Rugby World Cup had their big reveal on Twitter, the reaction was… well, mixed:

“Is it supposed to be a cat?”

“Rugby mascot should be burly, surly, and have a pint.”

“I’ll send you my therapist’s bill.”

…and the outright murderous: “Kill it with fire.”

Poor Ren-G (that’s their name; weirdly they share one), dismissed as badly-drawn felines when they are in fact “shishi”, lion-like animals from Japanese mythology that attract happiness and ward off evil.

Now, there’s an argument that it’s traditional to hate sporting mascots. Just ask Whatizit, the mascot for the 1996 Summer Olympics – who was branded “a sperm in sneakers”. But since Ren-G are a lynchpin of the World Cup merchandising programme, you might think the Twitter reception would worry World Rugby.

Not a bit of it. Why? Because they’re big in Japan. And Japan, as well as being the tournament’s host nation, is the home of Hello Kitty and Pokemon – the ultimate market for mascots.

Here, nothing’s too random or revolting to have a joyful character promoting it. Shops, trains, airports, foodstuffs, public baths, medical procedures… There’s a furry for everything. Often, they’re anthropomorphised fruits, or surreal mash-ups of animals and objects.

Kan-chan, for example, is the mascot of Ichijiku Pharmaceuticals. The firm makes fig-based laxatives and enemas, so Kan-chan is a mixture of a fig, an enema, and a penguin.

Then there’s Waka-P, the mascot for Wakayama Women’s Prison, who has an orange for a head.

(Author’s note: these are not the weirdest ones. Most of those work for the government or finance. Like Amazones, a mascot in Ama City, a masked dominatrix with huge teeth who whips bottoms using regional veg.)

How did Japan get obsessed with mascots, to the point where handmade Ren-G dolls sell for $1,849 (£1,490)?

According to Chris Collier, a Brit in Tokyo and mascot superfan, the craze started about a decade ago when Japanese regions started promoting themselves

Meet this clever ingredient!

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