Japan is known for its culture of mascots for everything – cities, sports tournaments, museums, etcetera. But even by those standards, the story of Chiitan is a peculiar one.
The mascot of the Japanese city of Susaki is Shinjo-Kun, a giant otter with a ramen bowl as his hat. The city recently also had an honorary tourism ambassador called Chiitan, which is a real otter. The original otter Chiitan has a mascot, which is also an otter and is also called Chiitan. The animated explanation of this complicated situation during Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was found to be quite amusing by the audience.
Chiitan the mascot wears a turtle for a hat. This mascot was never officially affiliated with Susaki but wreaked havoc there nevertheless.
According to a New York Times report from January 2019, the administration of Susaki received over 100 complaints about mascot Chiitan’s rogue behaviour, so much so that the city refused to renew the honorary tourism ambassador Chiitan the otter’s contract.
“Every Chiitan video is a work of art,” Oliver said during his show, playing a few samples.
After Susaki distanced itself from Chiitan, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver made its own mascot, Chiijohn, and sent it to Susaki to be Shinjo-kun’s friend.