The return of the popular Japanese Go Torch mascots brought lots of smiles, laughter, and dancing to this year’s J-Pop Summit. The Japanese pop-culture festival brought a record 20,000 attendees to San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center July 22-24, teaming the Go Torch (Yuru-Kyara) characters with pop music artists Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, World Order, GARNiDELiA, Silent Siren, and YANAKIKU.
The Go Torch characters were spotted at every corner of the event. Paper bag fairies SanaSenaBona (from Sasebo), twin bears Koakkuma & Akkuma (from Hokkaido), Zombear (from Otaru City, Hokkaido), Umebara Hibari (from Ibaraki), and AsakuSamurai (from Asakusa) greeted visitors at the entrance and took photos all weekend long. Fans who posted their photos on social media with the hashtag #JPMascot received special treats like Zombear’s blue-colored ramen and commemorative keychains.
Special appearances included a packed-house live performance on the Fort Mason stage with live otagei dancing, MC-ed by SanaSenaBona and Stephen Chun. Koakkuma and Akkuma from Hokkaido played their original rock song “Akkuma Time”. Otaku culture princess Umebara Hibari danced to Maidreaming’s song “Dreaming Passport”, followed by BABYMETAL’s “Gimme Chocolate”. AsakuSamurai, known as the dragon samurai from Asakusa, gave a sword performance and battled ninjas in thrilling on-stage combat.
The mascots also took part in the festival’s new Sake Summit and Ramen Summit, spotlighting Japan’s food and drink culture, and visited Japan’s Consulate General offices.
The Go Torch mascots’ appearance at J-Pop Summit was sponsored by NePt Japan and Nippon Travel Agency, who offered a special tour package to visit the Hokkaido and Kyushu areas exclusively during the event.