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San-X character
Stuff toy of Rilakkuma
First appearance2003
Created byAki Kondo
FriendsKorilakkuma, Kiiroitori, Chairoikoguma

Rilakkuma (リラックマ, Rirakkuma) is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company San-X, created by former employee Aki Kondo. Companies such as Re-Ment have collaborated with San-X to create Rilakkuma merchandise. Rilakkuma appears on items such as stationery, dishware, backpacks, and stuffed animals. A Netflix original series based on this character titled Rilakkuma and Kaoru is slated to premiere globally in Spring 2019.[1]


The San-X company puts staff members under obligation to create one cute character per month. Aki Kondo (also the creator of Okutan to Dannachan) saw a TV show about dogs. She wished to own a pet because at that time she was very busy working and hoped for a more relaxing life. Rilakkuma is an embodiment of her wish.[2]

Rilakkuma launched in 2003. Rilakkuma and Tarepanda, another San-X character, have been described as "huge hits in Japan" by The New York Times. As of May 2010, Rilakkuma ranked as the fifth most popular character in Japan in a survey of the Character Databank.[3]

History and products[edit]

In July 2009, Bandai released an exclusive edition of Rilakkuma-themed notebook computers.[4]

Between August 2, 2013 and September 16, 2013, the San-X Company collaborated with ENJOY!BASEMENT DINING to create a Rilakkuma-themed cafe in Harajuku.[5]

In September 2017, Aliquantum International (AQI) became the exclusive distributor of San-X products in North America.

San-X has several dedicated Rilakkuma stores around Japan.[6] In 2017, partnering with Aliquantum International, they opened a temporary pop-up Rilakkuma shop in Florida, USA.[7] A second U.S. pop-up opened in New York City's Times Square September 2018.[8]

A stop motion animated series called Rilakkuma and Kaoru (リラックマとカオルさん rilakkuma to kaoru-san) is set to start streaming on Netflix in spring 2019. The series was made at Dwarf Studio, who previously made stop motion Domo-kun animation. It is directed by Masahito Kobayashi and written by Naoko Ogigami.[9]


Rilakkuma's name is a combination of リラックス rirakkusu, a Japanese transliteration of the English word "relax", and クマ(熊)kuma, the Japanese word for "bear". Rilakkuma's origin story is that he mysteriously appears in the office lady Kaoru's apartment one day.[10] He is a soft toy bear who has apparently decided to take up residence there. On his back there is a zipper which when opened reveals a light blue polka dot patterned material. The reason for the zipper on his back is unknown.

He was first seen in a series of picture books called Rilakkuma Seikatsu produced by San-X but since has become equally popular as a soft-toy character. In the picture books, he is often seen dressed up in a variety of costumes such as a kappa costume. In addition, it is implied that even in his usual appearance, his entire lower body is a costume, which he will often replace when it gets old or dirty (Rilakkuma is frequently seen sitting around waiting for suits that look exactly like him to dry on the clothes line). However, it is not clear whether his head is also part of his costume.[11]


Rilakkuma is often accompanied by his friend Korilakkuma (コリラックマ korirakkuma). While Rilakkuma is a brown bear cub, Korilakkuma is white. While Rilakkuma sports a zipper on his back, Korilakkuma possesses a red button on the chest. Like Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma's origin is very simple. Korilakkuma merely mysteriously appeared at Kaoru's house one day, and Kiiroitori gave Korilakkuma that name because of Korilakkuma's likeness to a little Rilakkuma (小/子/仔 ko means a “small, little; child; cub, young (of an animal)” in Japanese). Korilakkuma's personality contrasts Rilakkuma in that Korilakkuma is full of vigor and is very mischievous.[12] Korilakkuma takes advantage of Rilakkuma's easy-going nature by playing pranks on him while he is sleeping; common pranks include drawing on Rilakkuma's face and stomach, putting headphones on Rilakkuma, driving remote-controlled toys into Rilakkuma, and sewing odd color patches on Rilakkuma's suits. Despite this, Korilakkuma is shown to have a good relationship with Rilakkuma, and the two are described as close friends. Although being too young to speak, Korilakkuma occasionally knows what Rilakkuma is saying.[11]

Kiiroitori lives at Kaoru's house and is her pet chick.[12] His name (キイロイトリ, from 黄色い鳥 kiiroi tori) simply means “yellow bird” in Japanese, although he is sometimes described as a “pig-nosed chicken” outside of Japan. Kiiroitori lives in a birdcage but is able to enter and exit this cage at his own discretion. He often scolds Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma because Rilakkuma is too lazy and Korilakkuma is too mischievous, although sometimes he feels down because he thinks he scolds them too much. He plays a tsukkomi role (considered to be the smarter, more logical one who criticizes others for making mistakes). His favorite thing is to save money (such as the loose change found while cleaning). Kiiroitori is basically the opposite of Rilakkuma because of the bird's hard-working nature and love of cleaning.[13] Despite being commonly portrayed as more mature, Kiiroitori is occasionally shown to have faults that suggest he is not quite as “grown up” as he pretends; for example, Kiiroitori has difficulty flying without wing extensions and is sometimes easily scared by his fellow birds.

In 2016, a darker and smaller brown bear named Chairoikoguma was introduced via Twitter. Korilakkuma met him while on vacation with Rilakkuma and Kiiroitori in the Honey Forest. Kiiroitori subsequently named him Chairoikoguma (チャイロイコグマ; 茶色い仔熊/小熊 chairoi koguma means “a brown bear cub / little bear” in Japanese). Rilakkuma and Chairoikoguma share a similar design, although their appearance differs in several key ways: Chairoikoguma has fangs, fluffy white hair on his chest and bear-shaped marks painted with honey on his bottom and soles. Further, unlike Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma, Chairoikoguma's eyes are depicted as bright and glassy rather than somewhat dull and matte, and Chairoikoguma does not appear to be wearing a body suit (he does not possess a button or zipper), suggesting he is more feral. Chairoikoguma is often seen as walking on all fours although he can stand up. Since his introduction, Chairoikoguma can often be seen with Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma and Kiiroitori in official merchandise.[14]

Picture books[edit]

  • Rilakkuma Seikatsu - Daradara Mainichi no Susume (Aki Kondou, March 2004)
  • Dararan Biyori - Rilakkuma Seikatsu 2 (Aki Kondou, November 2004)
  • Tori Dayori - Rilakkuma Seikatsu 3 (Aki Kondou, May 2005)
  • Kuma Goyomi - Rilakkuma Seikatsu 4 (Aki Kondou, September 2006)
  • Utatane Kibun - Rilakkuma Seikatsu 5 (Aki Kondou, September 2007)
  • Bonyari Kinenbi - Rilakkuma Seikatsu 6 (Aki Kondou, August 2008)
  • Yanwari Jozu - Rilakkuma Seikatsu 7 (Aki Kondou, October 2010)

Sticker books[edit]

  • Rilakkuma Daradara Shiiru Bukku (Aki Kondou, November 2004)
  • Rilakkuma Dara Pika Shiiru Bukku (Aki Kondou, May 2005)
  • Rilakkuma Gorogoro Shiiru Bukku (Aki Kondou, September 2006)
  • Rilakkuma Howa Pika Shiiru Bukku (Aki Kondou, September 2007)
  • Rilakkuma Nohohon Shiiru Bukku (Aki Kondou, August 2008)
  • Río Kku A Darádará Shiiru Bukk (Aki Konduo, August 2017)



  1. ^ "Rilakkuma and Kaoru will premiere globally as Netflix original series in Spring 2019". Netflix Media Center.
  2. ^ Interview with Aki Kondo (in Japanese) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-09-16.. November 11, 2006.
  3. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (May 14, 2010). "In Search of Adorable, as Hello Kitty Gets Closer to Goodbye".
  4. ^ "Bandai Rilakkuma netbook suffers from serious supercutitis", Engadget, July 13, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2009.
  5. ^ "You Will Die of Cute Overdose! Rilakkuma Cafe Opens for Limited Time". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 29, 2013. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ "リラックマストア各店所在地". San-X.
  7. ^ "Japanese retailer known for its 'stress-free' bear will open first U.S. store in suburban Tampa". Tampa Bay Business Journal. September 26, 2017.
  8. ^ "Rilakkuma Pop-up". 2018-09-14.
  9. ^ "Rilakkuma to Kaoru-san Stop-Motion Anime's Promo, Visual Revealed". Anime News Network. May 22, 2018.
  11. ^ a b ja:リラックマ
  12. ^ a b San-Xネット
  13. ^ Sutekina Okusan Magazine January 2009
  14. ^ "May 24, 2016". Twitter.

External links[edit]