World’s Only Mascot School Teaches People How to Be Professional Characters

Melissa Knowles

It's no secret that most kids love to see characters in costumes, but for those who actually have to wear them, it's quite the chore. The Choko Group mascot school in Tokyo, Japan, treats the entertainment of children as a serious business.

The mascot school — founded by Choko Oohira, a 20-year veteran of wearing mascot costumes herself — is focused on teaching performers the most effective ways to inhabit and showcase their characters. The school is the only one of its kind in Japan, and quite possibly the world. (Mascots and characters at amusement parks like Disney World and Six Flags are usually trained on the job.)

Lessons consist of everything from dance to the best ways to portray specific characters. In a video uploaded to YouTube that shows mascots in a skills training class, they march in place while in full costume. Oohira says of her efforts to put out the best mascots: "When I see a real hand poking out of the costume's hand, or their mask slips, it's very disappointing. I want to show the world how to fully become the character and explain that's how to make children happy."

At the Choko School, students do not wear their full costume until the end of their studies. But when they do put them on, they stay in character while watching others perform. Apparently, there is a need for mascots, as the job market in Japan has seen an increase in demand for character performers in recent years. So if you're looking to get into the professional mascot business, you now know where to go.

[Related: Controversial Mascots, Professional and Collegiate]

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