Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#28 Homage to my Rirakkuma Stuffie

While  Hello Kitty still holds top ranking in Japan, Rirakkuma is still quite popular.  I wrote a post on this a while back.  Check it out if you haven’t already.

There’s actually a number of Rilakkuma plushes out there these days.  On that other post I linked to a bear that I *thought* was my bear, but actually isn’t.  My bear doesn’t seem to be on amazon.com (alas), but is on amazon.co.jp

This is the exact plush that I have:

Anyway, the thing I love about him more than any other stuffed animal I’ve owned (that I can remember) is that because of the way his body is and how his head is positioned, and how floppy his arms and legs are, he always looks somewhat alive, or realistic, in a way a stuffed animal who is forever in the sitting position never can look.

I sleep with my Rirakkuma every night when I’m at my apartment (I don’t take him with me on trips).  A while back I started to notice that whenever I’d wake up, Rirakkuma would be in a position that really looked like he was chilling, or resting, or was doing his own thing. So I snapped a few pictures over the span of several weeks, and today I will share them with you.

I want to stress that none of these are posed; instead they’re just how Rirakkuma ended up after I got out of bed.


My Rirakkuma has been my trusty companion since I studied abroad in Japan 2007-2008 when I bought him at a store near my host family’s apartment.

He was so important to me during my time studying abroad that I actually had him sit with me the whole time on the flight back home from Japan, and thus was able to proudly display him when I was reunited with my mom after being away for 9 months.

When I leave Japan for a 2nd time, in just under 2 months, I also intend to keep him close, though this time perhaps in my carry on suitcase, instead of right in my arms.  A 22 year old can get away with a stuffed animal on a plane, but can a 26 year old?  Probably.  Hmm.

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#21 Character Goods – Rilakkuma

Okay, so I’m sure most everyone is familiar with the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty:

She’s gotten so popular in the US, you can easily find her on handbags, pajamas, lunch boxes, mousepads…the list goes on an on.

In Japan there are MANY different characters.

Of course, there is Hello Kitty (called Kitty-chan here). She’ll probably be around forever.

Some characters have their moment in the spotlight and disappear after a year or two.

Others have managed to retain their popularity over a long period of time (several years). The character I’m going to talk about today belongs in this category.

I present you with Rilakkuma:

His name is a combination between the words Relax and Kuma (Bear). He is thus, the relaxing bear.

Japan is a population of hard-workers. They study too hard, stay at the office too long, spend too much energy caring for their families, and generally don’t relax as much as they’d like to. Thus Rilakkuma is a welcome member of Japanese society to remind everyone to take it easy once in a while.

Rilakkuma is the main brown bear, and I’m pretty sure he’s male. He has a friend (I think female) bear who is white, named Kolirakkuma.

There is also a chick who you often see with them, named kiiroitori (“yellow bird”). He is hard-working and likes to clean, and is often admonishing rilakkuma to get off his butt and do something.

Just about as often as you see Hello Kitty goods here in Japan, you see Rilakkuma goods. A lot of kids have pencil cases, notebooks, charms, hankerchiefs, and other things with him on it. Even adults like him too.

I myself became a fan of him back when I studied abroad 2007-2008. Then I had a Rilakkuma wallet, and also bought a Rilakkuma stuffed animal. At the time I thought the stuffie was really expensive (something like 3,500 yen maybe) but I really wanted it so I splurged. It was totally worth it, because I sleep with him every single night. Since his arms and legs are floppy, he often seems to take on a life of his own wherever he is on my bed, sometimes sprawled out, sometimes half sitting up, sometimes just his head pokes out of the covers. He always looks like he’s cozy though. And snuggling with him does make me more relaxed.

He’s even available on Amazon if you want your own! This is the exact one I have:

San-x Rilakkuma Plush with Secret Pocket

The secret pocket isn’t really secret though; it’s a zipper on his back that can barely hold anything – I’m not sure what it’s meant for. People suggest kleenex sometimes.

The company that owns Hello Kitty is Sanrio. The company that owns Rilakkuma is San-X. He’s the first character in their line-up when you go to their website. It also links you to “goods,” aka products, on offer, though it looks like that site doesn’t sell directly, but rather links you to websites/stores that do.

Very fortunately though, Amazon has a lot of Rilakkuma products. Take a look and see if there’s anything you’d like!