I haven't posted anything Japan-centered recently so i thought i'd post something i came upon today.. taken from Trends In Japan
Iyashi kyara are characters that are not just cute but give people who see them a sense of relief and warmth. People today lead busy lives and are drawn to objects that reduce stress and help them maintain a healthy state of mind. Iyashi kyara, one such product, have been a hit among schoolgirls, schoolboys, young women, and young men because of their cute designs.
A variety of iyashi kyara have made their appearance, and animals figure big in the designs. The characters are used on stationery, turned into stuffed animals, and found in picture books, video games, and other goods.Tarepanda! "lazy" panda who lies on his tummy all day and gets around by rolling coz he's so lazy!
San-X Co., which came out with the hit character Tarepanda, has reportedly rung up sales of ¥60 billion ($500 million at ¥120 to the dollar) in goods with its Rilakkuma ("relax bear") character launched in 2003. Another noteworthy design is Kapibarasan, which was inspired by the capybara, a giant rodent indigenous to South America.
Iyashi kyara are easygoing. Rilakkuma is a bear that takes up residence with Kaoru, a young company employee, while Kapibarasan likes hot springs. All iyashi kyara have a story behind them, something that sets them apart from other characters.