Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Don't We Have Chickens in Our Newscasts?

I first saw him last September while watching the evening news in our Tokyo hotel. I was stunned into silence. My husband was the first to speak. "That was a chicken on the set," he said.

I saw him again on Monday evening. Different Tokyo hotel, same newscast. A Japanese television network employs a chicken. Not a live one, mind you, but a mascot. It was odd to see him on the set with the other news anchors, standing in front of the desk at the open of the broadcast, especially since the lead story was the damage caused by Typhoon Talas. 

The September 5, 2011, open of News Every.

As we discovered last year, the chicken does the weather.

Sora Jirou in 2010

His name is Sora Jirou, and he's the resident weather chicken for News Every. Since mascots don't actually say anything, weathercaster Kihara-san does all the talking – and Sora Jirou nods in agreement – during their two-minute segment.

Sora Jirou and Kihara

As strange as it is to see a chicken on the news, I love Sora Jirou. How can you not love a chicken who wears a raincoat? Look, there's even a cartoon version of him on the forecast graphics.

Sora Jirou's forecast for the evening

Sora Jirou's forecast for tomorrow

Weather page on News Every's site

Is it silly to have a weather chicken on the news? Yes. Is it unprofessional? Maybe. But in Japan there's a mascot for practically everything, so why not the weather? As we debate this point, let's watch a YouTube video of Sora Jirou wearing a momiji (autumn leaf) skirt.

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