San-X (サンエックス San Ekkusu?) is a Japanese company that specializes in the creation, production and marketing of goods featuring cute characters such as Tarepanda, Rilakkuma, Kogepan and Afro Ken. The characters are usually anthropomorphic representations of animals or inanimate objects; the character Tissue-san was modelled on an ordinary box of tissues. Each character has its own quirky traits. For example, Momobuta is a pig with a head shaped like a peach, who enjoys karaoke and painting her nails. San-X head designer and creator of Tarepanda, Hikaru Suemasa said in 1999: "It's not just being cute. There is something different - a relaxed look, powerless".[1]

San-X characters can be found on stationery sets and pencils, as small figurines, keychains and stuffed toys. They are sold as blind boxes, gashapon and in UFO catchers and other prize machines in Japan's arcades. There are also anime series, video games and children's books featuring the characters.

Various San-X characters, including Kogepan, Monokuro Boo, Wanroom, Tarepanda and Afro Ken



San-X was founded in April 1932 as a privately-owned business under the name Chida Handler. In October 1942, Chida Handler became a limited company. Chida Handler's name was changed to San-X in May 1973.[2] The name San-X derives from an earlier logo which was a row of three X characters. San is three in Japanese.

Before Tarepanda became a hit, most of San-X products did not rely on characters. They continue to sell products like stationery with scenic shots and illustrations. In 1987 San-X created Pinny-Mu, their biggest character until Tarepanda was created in 1995. After Tarepanda became a success in 1998 San-X turned into a full-scale character development and licensing company. In 2003 Rilakkuma was created and in 2005 Mamegoma, which was adapted to an anime series in 2009.

According to The New York Times, San-X is a smaller, nimbler company that is usurping the Sanrio corporation. The San-X characters Tarepanda and Rilakkuma have been described as "huge hits in Japan" that are rising in the Character Databank character popularity charts while Sanrio's Hello Kitty character has slumped in popularity, especially in Japan.[3]

List of characters


The Rilakkuma display at Kiddyland in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
  • Afro Ken - a dog with an afro[4]
  • Berry Puppy - cute white dog that really likes strawberries[5]
  • Buru Buru Dog - an extremely tiny, constantly trembling and weeping dog[6]
  • Cherry Berry - Two adorable rabbits with cherries and berries.
  • Flying Elephant - an elephant that can fly using a bubble that he blows from his nose, released in February 2003.[7]
  • Harinezutan - a fashion-conscious hedgehog character, launched in February 2003.[8]
  • Homekoro - a round, brown Pomeranian dog.[9]
  • Jewel Cat - a pretty cat whose eyes are made of jewels and lives in a jewel box[10]
  • Iiwaken - a Shiba Inu
  • Kamonohashikamo - a platypus
  • Kawaii Collection - a collection of 7 rabbit characters, released in April 2010[11]
  • Kyoo Usa - a rabbit
  • Kerori - a frog that changes color according to its mood[12]
  • Kutusushita Nyanko - a black catwearing socks on his every leg.
  • Mamegoma - little seals that enjoy eating soybeans
  • Mixed Cats - a group of cats drawn like watercolors originally created for use on stationery[13][14]
  • Momobuta - a pig with a head shaped like a peach, who enjoys karaoke and painting her nails[15]
  • Monokuro Boo - a black pig and a white pig. There is usually a bee buzzing around them, and the phrase "Simple is Best" or "Are you happy?"[16]
  • Nakayoshi Net - a collection of happy animals[17]
  • Nemui Neko - a sleepy cat[18]
  • Nijinomukō - another collection of happy animals, drawn in a more sketchy style[19]
  • Norucchi - a tiny, fluffy yellow cat, often seen with Kutsuitanyanko, but smaller.[20]
  • Nyan Nyan Nyanko - small, usually white kittens that imitate various items, most commonly food. They also appear as everyday items, such as toys, school supplies, or household necessities.[21][22] The term "Nyan" or "nyaa" is a Japanese onomatopoeic word for a cat's meow. "Ko" is a word which in Japanese connotates with "child" or "young." Together they make the childish/cutesy word for kitten.
  • Pinny Mu - a woodland bear[23]
  • Rilakkuma - a brown bear who lives the house of an office lady (OL) named Kaoru[24]
  • Tarepanda (or Tare Panda) - a lazy panda[25][26]
  • Tohoho na Dog - a dog with a tire on his head[27]
  • Wan Wan Wanco - a collection of dogs, real dog photos with drawn backgrounds[28]


  • Amagurichan - a chestnut character.[29][30] Amaguri (which translates as sweet chestnut) is a popular snack in Asia. Amagurichan is always energetic, and the phrases 'eat me' and 'peel my skin' are his favourites. He is happy but doesn't have a very patient character and runs away when people don't eat it quick enough. Chestnuts from Tienjin, which is Amagurichan's home, have natural sweetness and roast deliciously.
  • Cheese Family - a collection of cheese characters.[31][32]
  • Ginshari-san - a little rice grain who is often found at the bottom of the rice bowl. It is believed that he is always found there, because he doesn't want to be eaten. By hiding in the bottom of the bowl, he gets to take a nap and avoid chopsticks.[33][34]
  • Goringo - a yellow girl apple and a red boy apple[35]
  • Kogepan - a burnt red bean bread bun who lives in a bakery, trying to fit in and make friends with the other bread items. Happiness for him is always short-lived, so he has the tendency to get drunk on milk.[36]
  • Mamepyon - a pea family.[37]
  • Mikanbouya (or Mikan Bouya) - a tangerine who likes candy and dislikes cold weather.[38][39]
  • Soreike Otamachan! - a onion character who is genuine but overly sentimental. [40]
  • Tenshinchan - a dim sum character, released in September 2005 [41]
  • Tomato Boy - a red tomato-headed character with a mouth like that of a chicken beak
  • Tsurutsuru Ramenchan - a ramen character, released in July 2003 [42]
  • Yōguru-kun - a yogurt character, launched in May 2003.[43]
  • Yunomichan - a Japanese tea character designed as a yunomi teacup, released in February 2002 [44]



  • Atsugari-san - a spirit who hates the cold and loves hot dumplings. He's a faerie who is found at places where the temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius - like tea, hot food and such. He is also called "Hot Head". He operates in groups, and perspires 10 buckets of sweat per day. He's not of danger to mankind - although not of much use either. Atsugari-san is afraid of Samugari-san, who is his exact opposite.[48]
  • Beer-chan- a 20-year-old beer fairy who enjoys beer.[49]
  • Boku Tsucchii - a tsuchinoko character that loves shimeji mushrooms, released February 2002[50]
  • Nagomimakuri - a friendly spirit who lives in clear waters and deep in the forest. It resembles a salamander but is still different in some ways. Her main features is her soft form and the way she moves around. It leads a lazy life in the nature and rolls here and there slowly.[51]
  • Oyasumi Bakura - a tapir, baku dream spirit who looks like a pillow[52]
  • Sabokappa - a kappa combined with a cactus. The toys come with small scented packets so they can be used as air fresheners.[53]
  • Samugari-san - a spirit who loves the cold and is the antagonist of Atsugari-san. He's a faerie who is found at places where the temperature below zero and stays beside people who tell scary stories or boring jokes. He is also called "Cold Head" and is only seen when captured inside ice cubes. As soon as the ice melts he vanishes. He operates on his own. His weakness is that if his scarf (which is made from his hair) is removed, he'll catch a cold. His favorite food is jelly. Samugari-san dislikes Atsugari-san.


  1. ^ Wired 7.12: Cute Inc
  2. ^ San-X Profile
  3. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (May 14, 2010). "In Search of Adorable, as Hello Kitty Gets Closer to Goodbye". 
  4. ^ "About Afro Ken". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  5. ^ "About Afro Ken". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  6. ^ "Buru Buru Dog profile". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  7. ^ San-Xネット: フレンドリーミックス (Japanese)
  8. ^ San-Xネット: フレンドリーミックス (Japanese)
  9. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ San-Xネット カワイイコレクション (Japanese)
  12. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  13. ^ "MIXED CATS Profile". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  14. ^ "Mixed Cat". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  15. ^ "Momobuta". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  16. ^ "Monokuro Boo". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  17. ^ "Nakayoshi Net". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  18. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Nyan Nyan Nyanko - The cats that are good at imitation!". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  22. ^ Nyan Nyan Nyanko's official page on the San-X website
  23. ^ "Pinny mu Profile". 1987-12-18. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  24. ^ "RME san-x". Retrieved 2010-04-08. [dead link]
  25. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  26. ^ "TarePanda Profile". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  29. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  30. ^ "Amaguri chan profile". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  31. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  32. ^ "Cheese Family Profile". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  33. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  34. ^ "Ginsyari san". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  35. ^ "San-X Goringo Apple". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  36. ^ "Kogepan profile". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  37. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  38. ^ "Mikanbouya concepts". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  39. ^ "Mikanbouya". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  40. ^ "Soreike Otamachan! - quirky // a guide to San-X and their characters". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  41. ^ (Japanese)
  42. ^ (Japanese)
  43. ^ Yōguru-kun on San-X website (Japanese)
  44. ^ (Japanese)
  45. ^ Tissuesan Character Information
  46. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  47. ^ "San-Xネット ワンルームメイト". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  48. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  49. ^ [2][dead link]
  50. ^ "キャラミックス". 
  51. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  52. ^ "とれたて!情報局 ハイパー: とっておき新キャラの壁紙が登場!". 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  53. ^ "San-Xネット". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 

External links

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