Osaka Expo’s Official Mascot Fails to Catch On – Serious Reasons Just One Year Before Event | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Osaka Expo’s Official Mascot Fails to Catch On – Serious Reasons Just One Year Before Event

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The Osaka Expo, which is less than a year away, is facing significant delays in construction, a lack of progress in the establishment of overseas pavilions, and even countries withdrawing from participation. There have been changes in plans, such as the installation of the Expo’s symbol, the “Great Roof Ring,” which surrounds much of the venue, leading to a doubling of the initial construction cost to approximately 235 billion yen. Additionally, issues such as the construction problem of the 200 million yen “Designer Toilets” have been brought up, with various challenges arising one after another.

Myakumyaku participating in a bean-throwing event at Naritasan Fudoson in Osaka, Japan.

Naturally, citizens are angered, given that the expenses are covered by taxes, but as we progress with our investigation in Osaka, we see issues beyond just the cost. The primary concern is the PR methods. A senior member of a shopping district in Osaka shares:

“No matter how much criticism there is, we absolutely want the Expo to succeed. That’s why we tried to display Expo-related promotional materials and posters in the shopping district, but the restrictions were too strict. Everyone is frustrated. It’s not just the big corporations, but Osaka as a whole should be promoting the Expo. What are the higher-ups thinking? It’s nothing but questions.”

Particularly concerning is the official character, “Myakumyaku.” Another senior member from a different shopping district near Umeda in Osaka expressed their true feelings,

“It’s extremely difficult to obtain permission to use materials printed with Myakumyaku, so you hardly see them around the city. There might be various rights-related issues, but we can’t help but think, ‘What’s the point of having an official character?'”


Even within the Osaka Restoration Association, which plays a leading role in the Osaka Expo, there are voices expressing concern about the strict limitations on the use of Myakumyaku. A member of the Osaka Restoration Association expresses frustration:

“We’ve been hearing questions from the people in our local electoral district and supporters, asking why we can’t use ‘Myakumyaku.’ We can only apologize and say it’s ‘difficult due to rights issues,’ but we receive scoldings every time we do.

Everyone here is speaking out of a sincere desire to boost the Expo, so there’s a dilemma due to the genuine passion. Personally, since the official Expo stores are all deserted, I think it wouldn’t hurt to increase exposure.”

Stores with Myakmyaku goods on display.

Even among the support base of the Osaka Restoration Association, opposition to the Expo stands at 65% (according to a survey by Kyodo News). The aforementioned member continues,

“To be honest, there are many members within the Osaka Restoration Association who don’t want much to do with the Expo. The voices from the local community asking ‘What’s going to happen with the Expo?’ are getting stronger day by day, and many members are busy dealing with that.

Unless they belong to the Expo Promotion Committee, most local-level legislators within the Osaka Restoration Association have little authority to respond even if they receive opinions. Every time issues arise with the Expo, the public perceives it as the Osaka Restoration Association not being firm enough. Naturally, this could affect elections as well.”

Myakmyak is also used on billboards advertising the Expo, but few people stop to look at them.

Last November, the “2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo Official Store JR Shin-Osaka Station Ekimarche Branch ” opened inside Shin-Osaka Station. When I visited on a holiday, the station was crowded, but the store was sparsely populated. Inside the store adorned with “Myakumyaku,” keychains, stuffed animals, snacks, and more were displayed. After observing for a while, I saw a man with a rolling bag purchase some snacks. A store clerk revealed:

“The awareness of ‘Myakumyaku’ is still quite low. We often get questions like ‘Who is this character?’ or ‘What’s its name?’ Most of our customers are from outside Osaka, here for business or other reasons. They mainly buy snacks and souvenirs related to the Expo.”

The fact that dissatisfaction extends even to the promotional character speaks volumes about the current state of the Osaka Expo.

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