Some of the most globally successful characters were created in Japan. Whether they started off with a cult following or instant celebrity status, these days nearly everyone can recognize these cultural icons at a glance.
The Pikachu species of Pokemon made its debut in Japan in 1996 for the Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue video games on the Game Boy system. Its popularity exploded the following year when one special Pikachu, in particular, was revealed to be a central character in the television adaptation. Since then, the red-cheeked, electric-type mouse has become an international icon and a symbol of Japanese pop culture.
The Dragon Ball series was old news in Japan by the time it reached the English overseas market for the first time in the 1990s, nearly 10 years after the original release. It didn’t matter, though, because Goku the Super Saiyan—with his huge hair and trademark orange martial arts-style suit—was a lovable lead character, and he remains one of the most instantly recognizable characters from Japanese pop culture to this day.
Even if they’ve never seen Astro Boy, one of the first anime ever to be made, most people would probably recognize its distinctive lead character. The anime follows the adventures of a character of the same name, an android which resembles a small boy. Astro Boy was recently revived in 2009 as a CGI film adaptation in English, though it wasn’t well-received.
Mario was one of the first Japanese pop culture icons to reach international shores. The character was created for the Mario Bros. arcade game in Japan in 1983, and his present-day look appeared in 1985 for Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Globally, the Super Mario series is now the best-selling video game franchise of all time.
Doraemon is a time-traveling, blue robot cat whose adventures center on helping a young boy who’s having a rough go of his elementary school years. Doraemon first appeared in comic form in 1969 but didn’t become really popular until the second anime adaptation of the tales began in 1979. Doraemon the anime was remade in 2005 and became popular throughout Asia, particularly in India. The character Doraemon is so instantly recognizable that the Toranomon Hills mall in Tokyo made a version of the character, Toranomon, its official mascot because of the similarities between their names.
The Sailor Moon anime was first released in English in 1995, introducing kids all over the world to this pop culture icon. Girls everywhere could relate to the lead character Serena Tsukino (Usagi Tsukino in Japan), a lazy crybaby with poor grades and a big appetite but who becomes Sailor Moon when the world needs her. Sailor Moon remains one of the most successful franchises to come out of Japan.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.