Japan has plenty of cute characters, but few of them match the cuteness of Rilakkuma. Perhaps it is the bear’s lackadaisical attitude that made it all the more lovable, especially in an increasingly divisive and fast-paced world. The “Rilakkuma Effect” is a cute phenomenon in hyper-efficient Japan, and I have been influenced– thanks to Netflix, which has recently released a 13-episode stop-motion animated series titled Rilakkuma and Kaoru.
The original Netflix series, Rilakkuma and Kaoru, is about a hardworking young woman named Kaoru, who struggles with bad luck while navigating through adulthood. She lives with her lazy stuffed toy/roommates Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiroitori. As adulting anxieties consume her, they remind her to take a breather, may it be through shopping or a much-needed walk in the park
Rilakkuma is the complete opposite of the Japanese ethos. In fact, the name Rilakkuma literally translates to “relaxed bear”. Rilakkuma is lazy and unproductive in socio-economic terms, just like what you see in the series— taking a nap and lazing around, basically, doing nothing.
Each episode lasts for about 12 minutes and promises to make you rethink about your daily responsibilities for a short while. Not sure about you, I live life in the fast lane hence my head is constantly thinking about the next task to tackle and I don’t suffer from decision dilemma, unlike Kaoru in the series. What I’ve learned from the series is that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much and instead of conforming, we should look within to find out who we are and what we want out of life, not what society wants for us.
And if life gets too hectic, we can chill out with Rilakkuma and friends. I recently discovered there is not one, but two Rilakkuma themed cafes in Japan. The first Rilakkuma outlet I’ve been to is in Arashiyama, Kyoto. The latest addition is located in the picturesque Miyajima Island, Hiroshima, which is famed for its giant “floating” red torii gate and hundreds of deer.
Traditional Japanese Style Rilakkuma Cafe in Miyajima Island
The outlet at Miyajima Island is housed in a traditional teahouse and it goes by the name of Miyajima Rilakkuma Sabo. The menu draws inspiration from the local delicacy, where Hiroshima is known for its fresh oysters and saltwater eel. And of course, Rilakkuma’s love for dessert is evident in the menu. Two words: Cuteness overload.
If you are planning a trip to Hiroshima, make sure to include this place on your itinerary to have a Kawaii experience with Rilakkuma!
Miyajima Rilakkuma Sabo
Hiroshima Prefecture 537 Nakanocho,
Daily from 10AM to 5:30PM