Tagged: mascots


Tone Canal Billiken Shrine in Nagareyama, Japan

Billiken is one of the many iconic mascots of Osaka, alongside the Glico marathon runner and the gigantic crab. Also called Billiken-san, this narrow-eyed dwarf with an onion-shaped head is said to be a lucky god, particularly revered by merchants who believe that rubbing the feet of his effigy brings you good luck. While he is well-known across Japan, it often goes unmentioned that he does not originate in Japan, but in Kansas City, Missouri. Billiken, the “god of things as they ought to be,” was designed circa 1907-1908 by illustrator Florence Pretz for her friend Sarah Hamilton Birchall’s stories published in The Canada West magazine. He instantly proved to be a hit, exceptionally profitable (except to the designer herself, much to her chagrin). Billiken statuettes were warmly received in Alaska and the Russian Far East, and accepted as part of the indigenous mythologies. He is also remembered today as the…