The term yuru chara refers to mascots, created mainly by municipal governments, to promote their localities, local tourism, and products. To qualify as a yuru chara, these mascots must project an innocent, easygoing atmosphere. Famous examples include "Kuma-mon" from Kumamoto Prefecture and "Bary-san" from Imabari City, Ehime. When a location holds a promotional event, we often see its yuru chara in a large suit worn by an actor. Many resemble animals whose Japanese names sound similar to those of the localities that feature them, local symbols, or something a locality wants to promote. For instance, Shizuoka Prefecture, known for Mt. Fuji, has a character named "Fujippi," which looks like the mountain.
The term itself, yuru chara, was originally coined by an illustrator, Mr. Jun Miura. "Yuru" comes from the Japanese adjective yurui, which has connotations of "softness." This word was combined with "chara" for "character" (i.e., mascot). With their innocent and lovable looks and relaxing impressions, they have come to be appreciated by many. Since 2010, a popularity poll called the "Yuru Chara Grand Prix" has been held each year, to decide on the nation's most popular "yuru chara."