I am so happy and excited to introduce you to our mascot, Kira Yamada (or Kira-chan). Kira Yamada is an energetic, peaceful, kind-hearted woman who’s not afraid of learning new things and exploring new cultures and traditions. Kira always have a positive attitude about life no matter what comes in her direction, and she makes a habit of eating her favorite snacks. She always gives everything her best shot, and her nurturing personality would make her easily approachable and be friends with. Always full of ideas and a smile to her face, she finds happiness in playing sports with her friends and meeting many different people from around the world and broaden her horizons!
Design Process of Kira Yamada
Designing Kira Yamada was a fun and knowledgeable experience because it’s always nice to be creative and original on something we’re passionate about, which is Japan, Japanese culture, and anime. When the entire design was finished, we was amazed on how it looked like, and how glowing and bright she looks from first glance. From the iconic hairpins, blue hair, and her attire, looking at Kira-chan makes us happy and we hope the entire world would feel the same amount of joy Kira does.
The design process started at early October 2021. The concept of Kira Yamada was a tough one since it was the first time, we tried to think of an iconic mascot that stands out from the average. I had done some research and found tons of benefits of having a mascot and came to realize there are even some prefectures in Japan that have their own mascot (such as Kumamon for Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan). After months of research and finding some example mascots from notable stores (and Japanese prefectures), I made the agreement that Jay Japan would get a mascot.
When I finally made that agreement, I already know the people that could make the vision a reality. I have been researching on the Collateral Damage Studios, and how they made their mascots from other websites (such as Internet Explorer and Imouri). I was really impressed on their works, so of course I reached out to them on the idea of getting a mascot for the store. Together with CDS, it was an amazing (yet tough) process since we have to think of a couple of ideas for a mascot. After a couple of recommendations and brainstorming from both sides, CDS and I made the agreement about doing Kira Yamada.
When they started with the first sketch, it was overall nice design in the beginning, and they checked all the expectations. However, the one thing that isn’t troubling but kinda concerning in the future is Kira being “too youthful” AKA she mainly looks like a middle schooler at best. There’s nothing wrong with the design in general, but because of how she looks like in an age-perspective on the very first try isn’t always a good look. The attire for her was nice, and it made me keep it while CDS tried to figure out how to make Kira a little older.
Second and Final Design
The second design they presented to us was sheer perfection. Now, she looks a little older and the attire stayed the same just how I liked it. CDS did a really nice job to make Kira chan a little older. Everything else was already perfect as it is (the attire, the hairpins, the physical stature), but seeing her as a young woman finally made the design absolute perfect for the world to see.
Iconic Figures for Kira Yamada
I would like to describe the design so that you can see how she original she is. We start off with the most iconic figures about Kira Yamada: her hairpins. The pink hairpin on the left is called the Nadeshiko which comes from the Yamato Nadeshiko, which is the official flower for Japan. It looked perfect for Kira-chan since it fits her personality the best: kind, gentle, graceful, respectful, humble (and it’s close to her last name by two letters). The one on the right is the Magnolia, which is the official flower for the state of Louisiana, USA. It’s mainly where the online-only Jay Japan store is located at.
Another iconic thing about Kira-chan is the wave design by her skirt. It mainly shows one of the most famous Japanese drawings: the Kanagawa Great Wave from Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849). It also represents the wave pattern (or seigaiha) that represents good luck and resilience in Japanese culture. So for Kira, wearing that with her skirt would help her bring good luck to herself and others.
Inspiration of Kira Yamada
Kira Yamada would mainly be inspired by an anime character named Megumi Tadakoro from the cooking anime series Food Wars. Despite her being scared and worried about a lot of things dealing with cooking and passing Totsuki Academy in the beginning of the series, she gained some confidence and have her own originality when it comes to cooking. I remembed from the last episode of Food Wars that she talk about eating Gumbo from the southern part of the United States (which is mainly from Louisiana), and she was in awe on the southern hospitality on the final episode of Food Wars, and how she use that to improve her craft. Megumi always had that loving hospitality when you go into a traditional Japanese ryokan, and that’s where I got the idea from Kira Yamada.
We would like to welcome Kira Yamada (or Kira-chan) to Jay Japan. A special thank you for the Collateral Damage Studios (CDS) and KC for helping with the special project for us. You’ll definitely see more of Kira in the future.