Japan has unveiled the names of its mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Blue and white checked character “MIraitowa” (pronounced miray-towa)– combining the two Japanese words of “Mirai”(future) and “towa” (eternity) – will appear at the Olympic Games.
The Paralympics’ pink and white “Someity” (pronounced soh-may-tee) is named after the cherry blossom variety “Someiyoshino,” with Games organizers saying the name echoes “so mighty” in English.
Tokyo 2020 released a shortlist of mascot pairs in December last year and asked schoolchildren in Japan and Japanese schools outside the country to vote for their favorites. More than 16,700 schools participated.
The voting process was part of the country’s nationwide education program called “Yoi Don!” which means “Get Set!”. The program aims to teach children the values of the Games and allow them to get involved in initiatives linked to Tokyo 2020.
The two futuristic, superhero creatures chosen were unveiled in February, without names. Those were revealed Sunday at a Tokyo event.
The mascot’s profile pages describe their personalities.
Miraitowa is a character “that embodies both old tradition and new innovation,” says the description.
“(Miraitowa) has an old-fashioned charm that reflects tradition and also has a high-tech, cutting edge vibe. It has strong sense of justice, and is very athletic. The Mascot has a special power allowing it to move any where instantaneously,” it says.
Miraitowa is said to be “very good friends” with Someity, who is a “cool character with cherry tactile sense and supernatural power. “
“(Someity) is usually calm, however, it gets very powerful when needed. It has a dignified inner strength and a kind heart that loves nature. It can talk with stones and the wind. It can also move things by just looking at them,” according to the profile.
Mascots have been used at the Olympic Games since 1968 to represent the culture of the host country. There have been mascots of all shapes and sizes – from dachshunds to bears, Greek gods to alien-like hybrids that incorporated aspects of the host’s culture, history or wildlife.
The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin on July 24, 2020, and run through until August 9.
The Paralympics will take place between August 25 and September 6.