The Miami Marlins baseball team mascot is a large anthropomorphized marlin named Billy. Today, through the magic of social media, we can see Billy joined by a new friend — a three-foot wide pear with stubby arms and legs from Japan called Funassyi.
Funassyi is a yuru-kyara. The term, and Funassyi itself, are Japanese: yuru translates to "loose" or "laid-back," while kyara is a shortening of the English "character." Yuru-kyara are similar to sports mascots, but their use is not restricted to sporting teams or events, instead being created to market goods or draw tourists to Japanese towns and cities. Funassyi himself represents the unremarkable city of Funabashi, in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo.
Other popular yuru-kyara — including a cutesy old man in a white vest named Chicchai Ossan (small old man) and the all-conquering Kumamon — compete in the yearly yuru-kyara Grand Prix, but Funassyi seems to be trying to get the edge on its rivals by making its presence known in the US and learning how to properly pitch a baseball. The 1,875-year-old pear also has an apparent appreciation for American music: Aerosmith is reportedly one of its favorite bands.
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