A few updates ago I mentioned Saitama, the Japanese prefecture that’s been made semi-famous as the home of Crayon Shin-chan, as well as the Lucky Star girls. The prefecture borders Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, but unlike Kanagawa to the south and Chiba to the East (the homes of Yokohama and Tokyo Disneyland, respectively), Saitama has a terrible reputation, being ranked 43 out of Japan’s 47 prefectures on the “coolness” scale. In fact, the universal word for “uncool” in Japan — dasai (pronounced dah-sah-ee) — comes from the phrase dame na Saitama (“no good Saitama”), which always seemed a bit unfair to me. I’ve always thought that Saitama Prefecture was similar to the Orange County area of California, which lives in the shadow of Los Angeles, and can seem somewhat less exciting compared to the glitter of Hollywood. (A friend referred to life there as “living behind the Orange Curtain.”) Like every Japanese prefecture, Saitama has an official mascot that the local government uses to promote various public safety and other programs, but this one — a dorky pigeon named Kobaton — is especially embarrassing. Maybe the prefecture’s stupid reputation could be improved by getting a new official character?
Maybe Saitama’s image problem comes from its stupid mascot?