Kigurumi Costumes

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Kigurumi is a trend that has first hit Japan and became a craze. Kigurumi is dressing up in cartoon character costumes or outfits in order to emulate or impersonate your favorite characters. Many of these characters come from popular children's cartoons or anime shows. Many conventions (cons), gatherings, and fan festivals are attended by people wearing Kigurumi costumes as a way to tribute to and to impersonate the roles of their favorite characters. Kigurumi is roughly translated as meaning to wear a stuffed animal. What is Kigurumi? To answer that question, you have to understand the costumes which make up Kigurumi itself. They vary in size, shape, and variety all depending on the characters which are being impersonated by the one in costume. Animal costumes are usually made up of fur and have heads of animal characters, such as those from Barney or Hello Kitty. Breathing is allowed through properly ventilated holes in the mouth of these masks, as well as eye slits which allow people to see. For characters who have a fleshier appearance. Flesh colored fur, with the consistency you would find on a doll or stuffed animal, is fashioned into a suit and worn over your actual skin. These costumes have a plethora of sizes and appearances, and you can find bear costumes, dinosaurs, schoolgirls, and kittens or cats. All of these varieties and more exist in Kigurumi.


One of the main reasons Kigurumi costumes are worn is during promotions or public events. These costumes serve as a way to advertise goods and services and to promote a business. They are often worn on the streets, and during festivals and parades, as children are naturally drawn to their favorite TV and anime characters, just as they are to Mickey Mouse at Disney world. It is also a street fashion in Japan to wear these outfits. Another type of Kigurumi costume is the mascot. These are the representative outfits of a certain business, team, or entity. Those usually consist of overstuffed fur costumes such as the ones you see worn by street performers at amusement parks or during parades.

Yet another Kigurumi costume is a doller costume. These are costumes that when worn give a fleshy appearance, usually representative of anime characters from an anime cartoon. The costumes are flesh-colored in order to appear like real flesh. It is even accepted to wear a female character costume if you are a male performer, and this practice is called cross-play, and has a tradition dating back to Japanese theater, and women being forbidden to perform publicly. Kigurumi costumes vary in different ways and there are fan groups and costumers who wear and represent all the different strata of Kigurumi costumes. Kigurumi suits do not necessarily even cover the entire body. This depends on the variety of suit being worn. There are suits called partials which cover arms and legs or perhaps only consists of head ware or Kigurumi masks.

There are also full body pajama costumes (disguise pajamas) that cover parts up to the entire body and are usually based on animals or other pop culture characters, cartoon characters, and anime characters. They are often not only worn as pajamas but also worn as a fashion statement out on the street. Disney characters are among the most popular. The company SAZAC is the largest manufacturer of costume pajamas. Dolphin Factory and Build Up Studio Sigma specialize in the "doller" costumes. The general word for those who wear Kigurumi costumes as a hobby is cosplayers, and then wearing their different costumes is called cosplay.


Cosplay is found in many different settings and there are devoted fan clubs and groups that regularly get together in costume to engage in cosplay. One of the main places that cosplay can be found is at comic book and video game conventions. A large array of costumes can be found in these settings, and Kigurumi is broadly represented. The most popular Kigurumi costumes are usually the ones that are characters from TV series' and movies. There are also furry costumes, which show off stuffed animals like cats, pandas, and popular cartoon characters such as Pikachu. Kigurumi costumes are featured at many of these conventions because certain segments of the conventions are dedicated to promotional events which feature certain television shows and movies. A lot of these events have live action staged events with actors in Kigurumi costumes acting out parts of these TV shows and movies. Those who cosplay in furry costumes usually do so first for fun, but also to role play favorite characters and scenes themselves, casting themselves and their friends in the roles they want to play. Animal furry costumes are very popular, and they are often used by cosplayers as a means to display their favorite animals and the cutest creatures that they enjoy most so that they can role play acting like these animals as they want them to be. Cosplay also exists for those who want to act like they are engaged in real-life Pokemon battles. They can duel in a public forum and act out their desire to play Pokemon as if they are the creatures doing battle instead of the ranchers controlling the animals.


The main reason to use mascot costumes is to promote a product or event. Many people use Kigurumi at store openings and sporting events to show team pride or for the more practical purpose of helping sell products. Kigurumi is a craze in Japan and people love seeing their favorite characters in costume form, and it becomes an event unto itself to be at places where these characters can come to life. In the United States, Kigurumi has yet to achieve the widespread popular appeal it has in Japan, and most of the cosplay you see is mainly on display at niche conventions that have events that are made to specifically appeal to cosplayers. Mascots are the one area in which Kigurumi has existed within our society for decades in the milieu of professional and collegiate athletics; however it has only been recently that the name Kigurumi has been associated with it.

You have also been able to have mascots at theme parks for decades, and Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters are the most popular and widespread example in the United States of mascot based Kigurumi. Another place these Kigurumi characters and mascots are often seen are in commercial retailers such as shopping malls. It is there that they are used to promote sales and events which are often celebratory and light hearted in nature. The most often places you can see Kigurumi is in stores that have a niche market specializing in children's retail. Kigurumi has a widespread appeal to people of younger ages because they are younger, and it makes them happy when they see their favorite characters in costume. These are the answers to the important question: What is Kigurumi? It is a craze from Japan that has recently been introduced to the United States where people dress up in furry costumes, which resemble stuffed animals and act like their counterparts. The costumes are based on either a larger element which gives them references in our culture, such as through the media or as an animal. There are many subsets of the Kigurumi costumes to choose from, and they are used as mascots or for a hobby for the wearer or to make a fashion statement. The costumes range from pajamas to animal costumes to costumes, which resemble a character or even those that have a flesh like tone to resemble an anime or a manga character. The costumes exist in many forms like partial costumes and masks and can be worn by either gender. This is Kigurumi in its many forms.