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Cute Rilakkuma Plushies: A Crash Course in Kawaii

Created 1/21/2022 11:28:57 AM in kawaii | rilakkuma | character | guide |

Your introduction to the world of cute Rilakkuma plushies! Find out why they're so great, where to find them, and which ones can kick-start your collection!

If you're all about that cuteness overload and have thought about growing your collection of Rilakkuma merch, you're in luck: the stuff is everywhere! All it takes is a short stroll through Japan's city streets for the character's cute face to enter your field of view, especially in the form of adorable plushies of all shapes, designs, and sizes.

That's all well and good if you're living in the Land of the Rising Sun -- but what about those of you who aren't?

If you've ever wanted to get your hands on some cute Rilakkuma plushies, but just never knew what to choose -- or where to look -- then keep reading!

In this quick guide, we'll introduce:

  • Why collecting Rilakkuma plushies is so great
  • 7 cute Rilakkuma plushie ideas to kick-start your collection
  • Where you can buy them (both in and outside Japan)

Ready for some Rilakkuma fun?

Let's go!

 

 


Who is Rilakkuma?

Rilakkuma and friends

Rilakkuma is a brown "bear" (see our Rilakkuma character guide for more info about that mystery) that lives with office clerk Kaoru after randomly showing up in her apartment one day. It's not just the two of them there, either: there's also Kaoru's longtime canary companion (and compulsive cleaner) Kiiroitori and mischievous white bear Korilakkuma to round out the quartet.

Rilakkuma was created in 2003 by Japanese company San-X (not to be confused with Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty and My Melody), and has remained one of Japan's most popular mascot characters ever since. In fact, Rilakkuma is so iconic that there's a fair chance that even people who aren't particularly interested in kawaii culture (or Japanese culture, for that matter) have seen it at some point in their lives!

What helps fuel that popularity and exposure, you ask?

Cute Rilakkuma plushies, of course!

And the good news is, with the wealth of information and merch available both in and outside Japan, there's never been a better time to start collecting!

 


Why collect Rilakkuma plushies?

With such a colorful cast of characters, it's little wonder that the demand for cute Rilakkuma plushies shows no signs of slowing down -- even now, some 20 years after the character first burst onto the scene.

But what is it in particular about plushies that make them worth your time? 

Variety and versatility

Rilakkuma plushies come in tons of different shapes and sizes, ranging from adorable little keychain mascots to jumbo-sized toys (read: cuddle buddies).

Obviously what this means is that you can enjoy Rilakkuma's company anytime and anywhere -- whether it be a matter of attaching a kawaii keychain plush to your backpack when you head out to school, decorating your living room shelves with medium-sized variants, or even propping a giant one up in your kawaii gaming room. Of course, that versatility also means you can easily show and share your plushies with others -- growing your Rilakkuma friends circle even more!

It's always a bummer when the things you like to collect have to stay in a cabinet or display room (guitars, plants, antiques, and the like) -- after all, when you really love something, you want to be able to see and touch it 24/7, right?

When you're collecting Rilakkuma plushies, that's never a problem.

 

Various Rilakkuma plushies

 

Another side of Rilakkuma

It's not like San-X only churns out slight variations of the same design, either: there's dozens of new themed series every year, with each one framing Rilakkuma and friends in unique ways.

Indeed, that ability to see another side of Rilakkuma is one of the most enjoyable things of all when it comes to collecting its plushies.

As we noted in our character guide, Rilakkuma's name is a portmanteau of the Japanese words for "relax" (rirakkusu) and "bear" (kuma). It's a very lazy, laid-back character by nature, so in official artwork you'll often see it lounging around in some form or another.

That's exactly why it's such a treat that San-X places Rilakkuma plushies in plenty of different situations and outfits (both male and female)! It lets you know that there's more facets to the character than just staying at home --  and of course, when you know more about someone, your love for them grows too!

 


7 cute Rilakkuma plushie ideas

So now you know what makes Rilakkuma plushies so great, and you've decided to embark on your plushie-collecting journey. Wonderful!

The next natural question is, ironically, where do you begin?

While nothing beats taking a look around and discovering plushies that appeal to you personally, the huge sea of options out there definitely makes it a daunting task in its own right.

But don't worry! We've rounded up 7 adorable plushies to help steer you in the right direction and offer some insight in terms of what to expect.

These furry friends will hopefully provide you with the energy and inspiration you need to really kick-start your collection!

 


#1: Rilakkuma Red Riding Hood

Rilakkuma Red Riding Hood

Model number

MY82901

Series

Rilakkuma's Fairy Tales (October 2020)

About the plush

First up we have this adorable entry in the Rilakkuma Fairy Tale series: Rilakkuma dressed as the famous Little Red Riding Hood (boots, bow, and all)!

The hood sits nice and snug on Rilakkuma's head,  perfectly framing its iconic facial expression and magnifying the cuteness factor tenfold --  all while no doubt keeping the lazy bear warm. Plus, with an elegant flower design lining its edges, it's a fashion statement to boot!

In the original fairy tale, the young Red Riding Hood survives her encounter with a devilishly cunning wolf when a brave hunter arrives on the scene. What do you think would happen if Rilakkuma was the one under the hood? Would it be able to fend the wolf off with its own two hands?

Considering how laid-back and lazy Rilakkuma is, we couldn't say for sure…

 

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#2: Novelist Rilakkuma

Novelist Rilakkuma

Model number

4974413776349 (JAN)

Series

Rilakkuma Book Cafe (2020)

About the plush

This kawaii plushie was just one bit of limited edition merch from the Rilakkuma Book Cafe, a special pop-up collab shop that ran in Osaka throughout 2020.

The cafe offered afternoon tea sets filled to the brim with cute Rilakkuma  sweets based on popular fairy tales --  including the Rilakkuma Red Riding Hood we introduced above. Of course, sharing is caring, so what better way to show your love for the lazy bear (and other San-X characters) than with some coffee and kawaii treats with your friends?

Novelist Rilakkuma is perfectly dressed for the part, with its suave blue beret and matching bow tie and overalls adding a splash of culture to its usual simple design -- just like the writers of yore. And like any artist or creator worth their salt, it's got its tools of the trade on hand at all times: a vintage feather quill and the book it writes in! (This version of Rilakkuma is actually the very one that penned Rilakkuma's Fairy Tales and created Rilakkuma Red Riding Hood above!)

 

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#3: Always With Rilakkuma

Always With Rilakkuma

Model number

MY25701

Series

Always With Rilakkuma (2019)

About the plush

Now that we've seen Rilakkuma rock the world of fairy-tale fiction, let's head in the opposite direction -- and go for a touch of realism!

This Rilakkuma plush trades in the rich red threads for a handy tote and some casual blue denim -- complete with a charming BEAR logo as well! (It's not even the first time we've seen the logo, either.)

The best thing about the whole outfit is that it creates a sense of familiarity and closeness. Rilakkuma isn't just a simple mascot character anymore; it's someone (or something?) out and about on a Sunday afternoon just like the rest of us, with things to do and places to be.

What's Rilakkuma up to today?

Where's it heading to, and when does it have to be there?

There's a story and a half waiting to be told with this plush, and the good news is that you're the only one who can put pen to paper.

 

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#4: Rilakkuma Marche

Rilakkuma Marche

Model number

MF17101

Series

Rilakkuma Marche (2021)

About the plush

Continuing our real-world theme is this cute Rilakkuma Marche plushie, inspired by a relaxing day out at the local town market.

Here's how the official stamps for the messaging app LINE describes the series:

"Rilakkuma and his friends are going to the market! This theme will remind you of happy times shopping for something special."

The first thing you might notice is that this Rilakkuma's design is slightly different from the usual art and merch -- from its smaller eyes to its overall lighter fur color. It's an aesthetic choice that definitely matches the more realistic theme, and yet it's still the same Rilakkuma you and I know and love.

Our favorite thing about this plush (and the entire Rilakkuma Marche series) is just how fluffy Rilakkuma is. The thought of fresh flowers, warm sunshine, and a casual stroll down to the market on a weekend afternoon will no doubt make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside -- so in that sense, a fluffier Rilakkuma is absolutely the way to go.

 

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#5: Happy Blue Bird Rilakkuma

Happy Blue Bird Rilakkuma

Model number

4974413766067 (JAN)

Series

Happy Blue Bird (2020)

About the plush

There's something undeniably wholesome about the harmonious "odd couple" pairings often found in the animal kingdom - whether it be a butterfly perched on a cheerful doggo's snoot, or a duck and goat strolling through a meadow side by side.

If you find yourself fawning over those sorts of sweet interactions, you'll love this exclusive plush from the Rilakkuma Store in Japan.

Rilakkuma's soft, fluffy head is clearly just the ticket this sweet little bird needs to rest its tired wings. In all honesty, another two or three chirpers could easily fit on as well -- and we wouldn't blame them if they tried.

We really love the way San-X has used color to accentuate the plush and its message. Blue is a symbol of calmness and tranquility -- particularly fitting for such a harmonious representation of animal friendship! Though it might not be the first color you'd expect to pair with a brown bear, it's gentle and understated enough to add to the overall picture without overwhelming it.

 

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#6: Strawberry Party Rilakkuma

Strawberry Party Rilakkuma

Model number

MX40801

Series

Strawberry Party (2018)

About the plush

More love and peace coming your way!

Rilakkuma with a giant strawberry? Pretty nice.

Rilakkuma with a giant strawberry in addition to strawberry-themed ear pads, paw pads, and accessories? Perfection!

This Strawberry Party plush is the sweetest gift (no pun intended) you could possibly give to a friend or family member  --  especially given how closely the fruit resembles a big red heart. The ribbon around Rilakkuma's neck could even be interpreted as a bow tie, in which case you've got yourself a smartly dressed bear professing its strawberry-filled affection to you and your loved ones!

Rilakkuma's regular color palette is brown and honey yellow, so the pink and pale green accents here are a nice subtle change of pace. The fact that the aesthetic holds its own is a testament to how strong Rilakkuma's design is.

 

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#7: Jumbo Rilakkuma

Jumbo Rilakkuma

Model number

MR76301

Series

San-X Original

About the plush

Put away your cushions, everyone --  it's time to replace them with this super cute (and super big) Rilakkuma plushie! With dimensions of 100 x 66 x 31 cm (39 x 26 x 12 inches), it's the perfect cuddle buddy on those quiet days at home when you just want to kick back and, well, relax.

What's great about this plushie (aside from its simplicity) is that it's just the right size and shape for what it sets out to achieve: If the Netflix series Rilakkuma and Kaoru is anything to go by, Rilakkuma is even bigger than this in "real" life: the top of its head reaches Kaoru's chest, and she's a working adult in her twenties! At that height, Rilakkuma might actually feel less like a cuddle buddy and more like a simple buddy (not that there's anything wrong with that).

At this height, Jumbo Rilakkuma can easily be carried home from the store or sent overseas through the mail. Just imagine your loved one's reaction when they open up their Christmas, Valentine's, or birthday present and see this Rilakkuma staring back at them -- it'd be hugs all around, for both Rilakkuma and you! 

 

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Where to buy Rilakkuma plushies

In Japan

Rilakkuma is so ingrained in Japanese culture and society that chances are you'll find some plushies lining kids section shelves in just about any shopping establishment you go to -- even some supermarkets.

But if you're looking for a larger range, you can't go wrong with the kawaii goodies specialty store Kiddy Land -- or, of course, the official Rilakkuma Store. These store chains are an absolute dream for Rilakkuma lovers, and fortunately have locations peppered all throughout Japan (including Osaka ones not too far from our ZenPlus office). The former stocks all sorts of mascot character goods in addition to Rilakkuma (perfect for kawaii lovers), and at the latter you'll come across exclusive merch you won't find anywhere else. You can't go wrong in either situation!  

 

Kiddy Land

Source: Flickr (JQuiz)

Outside Japan

Don't worry if you're not actually in Japan and can't get to Kiddy Land or the Rilakkuma Store easily -- there's always the convenient method of shopping online for kawaii Rilakkuma plushies.

Here at ZenPlus we have hundreds of plushies and other cute Rilakkuma product listings from trusted Japanese merchants, just waiting to be snapped up and sent to wherever you are in the world. From toy-specific merchants like Blue Marble to general stores like Meiten, you're bound to find something that catches your fancy.

Tap or click the button below to get your Rilakkuma adventure underway!

 

Rilakkuma plushies on ZenPlus

 

Shop Rilakkuma Merch

 


Conclusion: The case for Rilakkuma plushies

Rilakkuma has remained one of San-X's most popular mascot characters since its creation in 2003, and for good reason: not only is it cute, it's also everywhere to boot.

While every bit of merchandise will no doubt help you deepen your love for the lazy bear, it's the cute Rilakkuma plushies especially that will do the trick. All the different sizes, shapes, and outfits that San-X gives the character really help paint it in a different light -- ensuring there's never a dull moment! 

 


Over to You!

Which Rilakkuma plushies in this list do you like the most?

Who is your favorite character among Rilakkuma and its friends?

Will Rilakkuma and friends stay in Kaoru's apartment forever?

Let us know on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)! We'd love to hear from you!

ZenPlus is your one-stop shop for all things Japanese. Check out our massive range of Rilakkuma plushies, collectibles, stationery, and other merch direct from Japan!

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1/21/2022