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CJS Yuru-chara Design Contest!

What are yuru-chara?

Yuru-chara are mascot characters that represent various Japanese regions, organizations, events, and more. From the adorable Hikonyan of Hikone City, to the emblematic Miraitowa of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, these characters have become beloved icons throughout Japan and the world.

Now, YOU could design the next face of the Center for Japanese Studies!

Contest Eligibility:

Anyone can enter! U-M/CJS students, alumni, affiliates, fans, and otherwise those interested and engaged in Japanese studies are especially encouraged to submit.

Rules & Submission:

  • Entrants must submit the following via Google Form by Friday, February 21st at 11:59PM (EST)
    • At least one character drawing (.jpg or .png file), which must
      • be an original design, with a clear connection to CJS
      • be the original creation of the entrant and solely owned by the entrant
      • not have been previously published
      • not include any unauthorized third party intellectual property, general property or products, including existing institutional logos
        • Entrants may include an original emblem of “CJS” on the character’s design. This emblem might also be used for further promotional material by CJS (see agreement form below)
    • A caption containing the name and description of their character and the inspiration behind it. (For multiple character designs, label each description with the associated image’s filename.)
    • Completed agreement form acknowledging ownership, copyright, and usage restrictions
    • Contact information to notify winning entrants (name, email)
  • Submissions must be received within the 6-week contest period for entry (from January 10 to February 21)
  • By submitting to this contest, entrants acknowledge that they have read and agree to the terms outlined on this contest page


  • 1st Prize:
    • One custom 16inch plush made of their winning design (via Budsies, Approximate Retail Value of $150)
  • Runner-up(s):
    • CJS Merchandise Gift Basket

Winner Selection:

  • After the submission deadline, all submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges within CJS and the U-M International Institute, based on the following criteria:
    • How original/creative is the entry?
    • How does the design and caption relate to CJS, in terms of relevancy, message, or overall impact?
    • How is the clarity of the design or technical execution?
    • What is the overall impression of the design?
  • Winners will be notified via email and given 10 business days to respond; should the notification return undeliverable, or otherwise the entrant cannot be contacted, the potential winner may be disqualified and another entrant chosen.
  • The judges may tentatively select a winner contingent upon certain alterations to the design deemed necessary by CJS, giving the entrant 10 business days to approve the alterations before another entrant may be notified.
  • Should entries be insufficient in quality or quantity, the judges reserve the right to choose no winner or extend the deadline.
  • Top entrant submissions may be displayed periodically on CJS social media leading up to the winning announcement.
  • Winners are scheduled to be announced in late March. Please refer to this page for any updates on the selection timeline.


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