Results Announced: Over 3,000 Entries For Kourakuen’s Child Character Design Contest to Win 500,000 Yen

29.November.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

Popular Japanese ramen chain Kourakuen celebrated their 65th anniversary by unveiling their own original mascot characters Mama and Papa. They followed it up with a character design contest where people could submit their own illustration for creating a child character for the parents.


Here at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON, members of our MOSHI MOSHI FRIENDS program entered the contest, which we covered in an article last month. So, was one of them chosen as the winner…?


MOSHI MOSHI FRIENDS Members Enter Kourakuen’s Child Character Design Contest to Win 500,000 Yen

There were 3,155 entries to the contest, which were scrutinised by a line-up of judges. The winner was a mother who lives in Fukushima with her two children. Her character is called Kou-kun, a boy who loves ramen. This was announced at the official unveiling event in Tokyo on November 28, where Kou-kun showed his face to the world for the first time after some finishing touches added by Japanese illustrator Shashamin. The Kourakuen FamilyーMama, Papa, and Childーstood together for the first time ever.

The creator of Kou-kun attended the event, and was handed ¥300,000 travel money with JTB and ¥200,000 in prize money by the judges: Natsume Mito and the president of Kourakuen Niida. She was asked to give her thoughts on her victory as well as how she conceived her her character. “I was really shocked. I have two children, aged one and three. Both of them love ramen and we go to Kourakuen a lot. They always look like they’re enjoying their food, they always have their mouths wide open. That’s the image I pictured when creating the character.”

During the talk, Natsume Mito and president Niida said that the deciding factor for Kou-kun being the winner was the adorable gyoza puppy sat atop his head, who is called Luck.


Though our MOSHI MOSHI FRIENDS didn’t win this time around, all of us are glad that the family is finally complete, and that Mama and Papa have such a cute child.

Speaking about Kou-kun, Natsume Mito said: “I hope that Kou-kun makes Kourakuen an even more incredible place, and that he becomes a character loved by everyone. I’d be super happy if they released some merchandise too <laughs>.”


We look forward to seeing what the Kourakuen Family has in store for the world in the near future.


  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Collaborates with Ramen Chain Kourakuen in Fukushima

    19.May.2022 | FASHION / MUSIC / SPOT

    In conjunction with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s 31-show nationwide tour celebrating her 10th anniversary, the LOCAL POWER JAPAN Project was launched to energize Japan through the appeal of regional towns and cities. At each stop, Kyary collaborates with a local company to help bring more attention to smaller regions and businesses. The details of the artist’s collaboration project in Fukushima have been revealed ahead of Kyary’s performance there on May 20, 2022.

    In Fukushima, Kyary is teaming up with Kourakuen, one of Japan’s leading ramen chains dating back to 1954. For this collaboration’s logo, Kourakuen’s logo has been transformed as an homage to Kyary’s 2012 song Fashion Monster. The fan-favorite track has appeared in ad campaigns and is a must-play for the singer at concerts! 



    Known for its tasty ramen and gyoza, Kourakuen has been a local favorite for almost 70 years. While the menu hasn’t changed too much since the early days, the chain is known for releasing some unique offerings, like chocolate Ramen on Valentine’s Day and natto miso ramen this spring. 

    For this collaboration, fans can grab a branded Ramen Monster Spoon, perfect for slurping up your favorite bowl of ramen.



    Those who want to grab this item will want to head to the LOCAL POWER JAPAN Project online store by May 29. The spoon will also be sold in limited quantities at the Iwaki Aryan Arts & Culture Exchange Center Lobby in Fukushima on May 20. 

    A collaborative T-shirt is also on sale featuring the new logo and the singer’s 10th-anniversary logo. It will be available on the LOCAL POWER JAPAN Project online store until May 29!

  • New Balance 996 Model Sneakers to be Redesigned, Relabeled

    06.September.2021 | FASHION

    Since their creation in 1988, the 996-model sneaker has been one of New Balance’s most popular models. This month, the 996 will be reborn as the New Balance Standard, with the same comfortable feel and some minor changes to the logo.

    In the new campaign, Natsume Mito, Saki Shibata, Fumiko Aoyagi, and Shiho Takechi will be modeling the new shoes, each in a sleek new color. The photos are meant to depict women living their daily lives with positivity, as they did in 1988 and as they do today.


    The 996 model sneakers are the third model in the 99X series. Released in 1988 as a running shoe meant to be used on paved surfaces, its comfort and design has made it a best-seller among both men and women.


    Will you be grabbing a pair of these updated kicks?

  • New Balance Reunites With Natsume Mito on New Sneaker Collection

    09.April.2021 | FASHION

    It’s been seven years since New Balance Japan launched its ‘Sneaker and Me’ campaign in collaboration with Japanese model Natsume Mito. The pair have now come together again in promotion of the brand’s new edition of its 996 models, the ‘WL996’ lifestyle models for women, with Mito donning the sneakers in a look-book of outfits coordinated by Mito herself.  “Even though the sneakers and their form haven’t changed since I first wore them back then,” she explains, “I really felt that these 996’s lend more room to look good on adults. I also understand why these shoes have been loved for so long. I want to become someone like that too, so I admire the appearance of the 996’s.”


    Mito shows off her looks in a short interview with New Balance in the video below.

    The 996 models followed the 990’s which released in 1982 as the third in the 99X series. They made their debut in 1988 in the US and have long since been enjoyed not only as running shoes but everyday shoes too. They’re a long seller in New Balance’s books.

  • Hello Kitty Collaborates With Japanese Ramen Restaurant Kourakuen

    29.September.2020 | FOOD

    Kourakuen Holdings Corporation launched a collaboration campaign together with Sanrio’s popular character Hello Kitty on September 26 which is set to run to October 25.

    Hello Kitty takes over Kourakuen

    For the duration of the collaboration, the Roppongi and Dogenzaka branches of Kourakuen will be decorated in all things Hello Kitty


    Free folder with child meal sets

    A free and exclusive A4 size folder will be given to all who order the children’s meal set. This is available at select branches only and the folders are limited in stock.


    Kourakuen original merchandise

    Kourakuen x Hello Kitty Soy Sauce Plate | ¥200 (Tax Included)

    Kourakuen x Hello Kitty Folder | ¥100 (Tax Included)

    A special line-up of original and exclusive merchandise will also be sold at all Kourakuen branches including soy sauce plates, folders, and more.

  • Stay Home With Natsume Mito: 6 Fun and Uplifting Things to Do During the Lockdown

    06.April.2020 | FEATURES

    Here at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON, we post news and information about Japan in six languages. Our aim is to deliver a variety of content related to Japan for those who love and enjoy Japanese culture.


    Right now, people across the globe are in self-isolation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The same goes for Japan too, so we’ve taken this opportunity to create a new series on the website to show how we’re spending time at home here in Japan.


    The future is yet uncertain, and we hope for normality to return for all of us soon. We hope that this article takes your mind off the situation, even for just a little bit, to help you feel calmer, and just maybe it might give you some tips on what you can do while spending time at home.

    In this edition of Stay Home, we are joined by Japanese actress and model Natsume Mito who has shared with us how she is spending her time at home these days.


    1. Simply moving the pen

    In the current climate, I find myself just moving my pen to draw something if I’m feeling down. Occasionally, I find myself smirking as I draw something that I might be able to actually use. I might draw a lot of happy and energetic girls to brighten my day.


    2. Stretching & light muscle training

    Being indoors for a long period of time makes my back start to hurt and my shoulders stiff, so I’m practising stretching, light muscle training, and yoga that I’ve learned.


    3. A manicure to bring springtime indoors

    Since the time I have to spend indoors keeps increasing, I tend to forget about dressing up, so I treated myself to a manicure with a spring colour! The fingertips are the things I notice the most, since I look at my phone and stuff, so when I catch sight of them again it makes me feel brighter.


    4. Making candied strawberries for the first time

    In an ordinary situation, I’d go onto social media and watch someone eating candied strawberries and think to myself, “It looks so tasty!” But in the situation we’re in now, I decided to try making some myself! When I made the toffee, it got hard when I boiled it, so much so that I got worried!


    5. Cooking at home to create a healthy menu

    I’m working really hard to cook for myself. I’ll put on weight if I’m inside all the time, so I’m taking a lot of detox soups, salads, and other things!


    6. Rereading my favourite novels and manga

    I love reading books. Most of the time I’m reading a novel or a manga. I also like collecting art books by my favourite authors, so I’m looking back over the collection I’ve built up.


    What’s the secret to spending time at home?

    “Do the things you love doing. Try doing the things you’ve been putting off up to now! I’ve recently been reading manga I hadn’t read yet, and listening to music I used to listen to a lot which has made me feel nostalgic and livened me up. It’s fun to do, so give it a try!”


    Please give a message to those reading this article

    “Each and every action you take is for the benefit of those precious to you. Look after yourself, eat well, and sleep well! I’m praying for when we can all meet together again with smiles.”

  • MOSHI MOSHI FRIENDS Members Enter Kourakuen’s Child Character Design Contest to Win 500,000 Yen

    18.October.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD

    Kourakuen is a popular Japanese ramen chain based in the east of Japan that is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. Their diverse ramen menu line-up elicits a hint of nostalgia amongst the people of Japan, with its number one product being the “Chuka Soba,” a Chinese-style soba noodle dish.


    The company just recently launched its first ever mascot characters called “Mama” and “Papa.” They are a family who love to eat out at Kourakuen, with Papa having a weakness for ramen and Kourakuen’s popular Chuka Soba, and Mama having a thing for their seasonal and limited-time dishes.

    In celebration of 65 years since its establishment, Kourakuen announced an international Child Character Design Contest which people from around the world are able to participate in. Participants must create a child character for Mama and Papa. The winning character will serve to promote and make Kourakuen an even more fun place, appearing on the company’s social media platforms and at events to spread the word of their ramen across the globe.


    But that’s not all. Winners will receive ¥300,000 travel money with JTB and ¥200,000 in prize money. Many people are unaware of Kourakuen outside Japan, hence the contest, so if you’re reading this article, this is your chance to get involved and get the word out there!


    Our MOSHI MOSHI Friends members decided to all get together and enter the contest!

    Six of our amazing members came together. They are a diverse bunch, each of different nationalities and ages and having different hobbies.


    They headed to the Dogenzaka branch of Kourakuen in Shibuya, Tokyo where they ordered food of their choice as inspiration for their character designs.

    Being a ramen chain, Kourakuen of course has a long list of ramen options, but they also boast a selection of delicious side dishes too like gyoza and chahan. Our members were spoiled for choice and it took them 5-minutes or so to decide, but each of them settled on their favourite-sounding dishes.

    Time to tuck in!

    Chuka Soba – ¥440

    Naomi is a model from the Philippines. She went and tried the “Chuka Soba,” Kourakuen’s most popular dish.

    This was her first time eating at Kourakuen, and she seemed to enjoy the subtle flavours of her Chuka Soba.

    Etsuna, a model from China, has recently been obsessed with going to Hakata to eat tonkotsu, so she went for the “Tonkotsu Chashu Noodles” (¥640). She was really happy that there were mustard greens in the dish which she said made it really tasty. We were looking forward to seeing what kind of character Estuna was going to illustrate as she graduated from an arts college.

    Vegetable Gyoza – ¥240

    “I’ll go with vegetable gyoza!” Peter decided promptly, a Canadian and vegetarian who was raised in Japan.

    He was very pleased with his choice, saying: “I finally get to eat meatless gyoza after so long! There’s plenty of veg in them like yam, beefsteak plant and ginger. The skin is chewy too, it’s really good.” Kourakuen’s vegetable gyoza have no meat or onions in them, so we recommend them for people who have always wanted to try gyoza but don’t like the smell.

    Sammy is a British translator for us on MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON and she loves Japanese food. She loves ramen but is also health-wise, so she ordered the “Reduced Salt Chuka Soba” (¥440). “I came prepared, I’ve been practicing drawing my character since yesterday!” she explained, full of vim and vigour.

    Our next member, Daniel, Chief Editor at game and entertainment website IGN JAPAN, ordered the limited-time “Sesame Miso Chashu Noodles” (¥640). He gave careful consideration to his dish and character design idea, explaining: “I want to use noodles in my drawing. I love adding egg to my ramen, and children are born from eggs, so I’m thinking I might include eggs too.”

    Egg Rice Bowl – ¥320

    ChiMy ordered the Negi Ramen (¥540) together with the Egg Rice Bowl. She works as both as an illustrator and DJ. She actually frequents Kourakuen after her DJ sets, so she already had in mind her order.

    With their bellies full and their minds filled with inspiration from each of their dishes, it was time to get drawing.

    They laid out their crayons, pencils, coloured pencils and erasers onto the table. The competition allows both digital and hand drawn submissions. MOSHI MOSHI Friends went the traditional hand drawn route.

    ChiMy got stuck right in, using the pens she normally uses for her works.

    Everyone was chatty just moments ago, but as soon as they put pen to paper, they went straight into serious mode. We could see them incorporating different elements of their food into their drawings, like noodles, egg, seaweed, narutomaki, rice bowls, and so on.

    Each person who participates in the contest can submit as many entries as they like. Estuna seemed to be drawing both a boy and a girl.

    “Does this kid [character] even have a gender to begin with?” Daniel pondered as he worked on his character.

    Our members had to come up with fitting names for their child too.


    After about an hour of working hard, our members’ adorable children were finally complete.

    ChiMy’s character is called “En-chan.” She has a rice bowl for a hat and her hair is made of noodles. Her hair also has a stylish narutomaki hair clip.

    Sammy named her character “Umen,” which makes use of both Papa’s noodles and Mama’s narutomaki. His cute shoes are actually eggs!

    Naomi create a super adorable sibling pair, called Chad The E-Boy and VSCO-chan respectively. They have matching wavy noodle hair, as you’d expect from a brother and sister.

    Estuna’s idea was a twin brother and sister called “Menyuyu-chan” and “Rakutaro” who transform when they eat noodles. It’s cool that she even added some lore to their character!

    Daniel’s character is “Ramen Baby,” a creepy-cute ramen bowl who eats their own noodles, aka themselves. The diaper adds that baby touch to the character.

    Peter conceived “Mugimen,” who has a Native American-like appearance and whose torso is an egg. His headpiece is wheat which is a fundamental ingredient of ramen.

    Everyone was able to come up with their own unique ideas and put them on paper. It’s interesting to see how all their ideas came together and how their dishes inspired what they drew.


    The MOSHI MOSHI Friends left feeling satisfied after their tasty food at Kourakuen and being engrossed in their work.


    Submissions for the contest close at 23:59 (JST) on Friday October 25. Don’t worry if you’re not confident in your drawing skills as Japanese illustrator Shashamin will take your idea and add any finishing touches to your design and colouring. Anyone and everyone are encouraged to get involved.


    *All listed prices of the menu items include tax

    *Select branches may not stock select menu options listed in this article

    *To see the full menu, please visit Kourakuen’s official website at


    Models: Etsuna, NaomiChiMy, Peter, Sammy, Daniel

    Writer: Ellie (MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON)

    Photographer: pon

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • “Natsume Mito” is the true identity of the mysterious beautiful woman! The teaser movie of the wireless headphone was revealed.

    01.November.2017 | MUSIC

    Audio Technica started a new project titled, “Wireless Journey Projects” under the concept of “Each person’s character resonates with each other. The people who live here, the people who love music will connect naturally. We will offer you a, free and wireless journey.”

    at_WJP_main1026pr copy

    The teaser movie released in October revealed the truth that the true identity of the mysterious beautiful woman who’s face was hidden was Natsume Mito, an artist with short front hair who is very popular among young women. She changed her style from a cute style to an adult style. The video shows the moment she alters to a modern and stylish woman wearing a wireless headphone.

    Wireless Journey Projects – Nazono Bijo Version ※released limitedly

    Collaborative cafés will be opened!

    As the serialization of “Wireless Journey Projects,” the wearing experience of the wireless headphone, original collaborative menus and photo spots will be offered.

    Let’s check the teaser movie in which the new Natsume Mito is featured.


    『Wireless Journey Projects』×J.S.PANCAKE CAFÉ Collaborative Café

    Address: 2F, 1-20-17, Jinnan, Shibuyaku, Tokyo

    Business hours: 11,11 (Sat.) to 11,19 (Sun.)


    ※The event will be held centering around cafés in Tokyo
    Wireless Journey Projects URL:


  • Natsume Mito to feature in tokyobookmark’s new campaign!

    12.September.2017 | SPOT

    tokyobookmark is a service offered by the Central Japan Railway Company, or JR Central, which helps you choose the easiest ways to travel around Tokyo for the most affordable prices. It gives you the latest information related to Tokyo, as well as offers including shinkansen and hotel sets, and more. Comedy duo Maple Chogokin and Natsume Mito have been chosen to introduce “photogenic” tourist spots around Tokyo for the company.

    レスポンシブ_1200×628 copy

    A campaign has also started for this autumn with “photogenic” as the theme. Continuing their spring and summer appearance streak, he popular comedians Maple Chogokin and Natsume Mito will return together once more for tokyobookmark’s new commercial. They will introduce 3 “photogenic” tourist spots around Tokyo. The commercial will be screened in Nagoya and the Kansai region for a limited period starting September 9th.


    A video will also be posted on the official campaign website showcasing carefully selected photogenic tourist spots around Tokyo by tokyobookmark, as well as Natsume Mito’s recommended locations, and how to take Instagrammable photos.

    A-1(1) copy

    As part of the “TOKYO PHOTOGENIC SPOTS Posting Campaign” (TOKYO PHOTOGENIC SPOTS 投稿キャンペーン), a random winner will also be selected for posting a photo of photogenic thing or place around Tokyo on Instagram with the relevant hashtag.


    Lastly, there will be some special merchandise available to purchase in collaboration with Tokyo Metro. Anyone interested can find more info on the tokyobookmark special website.


    Take advantage of tokyobookmark’s services and travel to the most photogenic locations in Tokyo!



    tokyobookmark Special Website: (Japanese)

    Natsume Mito Website:

  • This spring, Natsume Mito is supporting new lifestyle changes!

    17.February.2016 | MOSHI MOSHI BOX

    Head down to MOSHI MOSHI BOX Harajuku Visitor Center to find a variety of all new stationery products by Natsume Mito in the Natsume Mito Series!


    With her single MAEGAMI KIRISUGITA (I Cut My Bangs Too Short) being her charm point, Natsume Mito is back with a stationery series which will power up your kawaii levels! The sales are planned to begin before the end of March at MOSHI MOSHI BOX and will also be available for sale at every Loft store across Japan.


    ‘In 20 years time, I want to manage a stationery shop!’ said once the big dreamer Natsume Mito – for someone whose love of stationery is unmatchable, now her dream is becoming a reality. Fans will not be able to resist her unique stationery designs, which use Natsume Mito’s specially drawn illustrations and unique photos. As a fashion leader in Aomoji style magazines, Natsume Mito makes the most of her aesthetic sensibility. Her casual stylish appearance, which is supported by many women nationwide, has been the influence of her stationary designs. A vast number of goods are lined up and ready for sale!


    Since her debut single MAEGAMI KIRISUGITA, let’s support her lifestyle as an artist and her new Spring lifestyle!!


    The new single ‘I’ll do my best’ was specially produced by Yasutaka Nakata (CAPSULE) and is dedicated to all who are starting a new, fresh life for themselves – a song representing setting off on a new journey.


    From the previous song themes, there has been a complete change – from a comical route, taking a turn to songs which paint a theme of hopeful and positive feelings, which run even through dark times, and now the year has come round to Spring, the song theme has moved onto a sentimental theme which depicts a delicate frame of mind.


    Having finished another pop number, Natsume Mito has pushed the boundaries to discover new grounds in music for the next single. The release date for the new single ‘I’ll do my best’, is 6th April – just in time for the Spring season of new beginnings! This song will also be performed at her first ever one man tour ‘Mito Natsume wa Omedetai’, which is planned to be held in May at Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.


    This year, keep an eye out for more action from Natsume Mito!

    p_img02 (2)


    Natsume’s Stationery Store:

    A variety of 19 designs and 44 different products. All items were carefully designed to the finest detail under the careful eyes of Natsume Mito. There are more than 50 products which are illustrated by or use a picture of Natsume Mito!




    Title: I’ll do my best

    Release date: 6th April 2016

    Producer: Yasutaka Nakata (Capsule)


    One man live tour :  ‘Mito Natsume wa Omedetai’

    Tour Information