Why Was This Japanese Otter Fired As Her City's Tourism Ambassador?


There are not one, not two, but three different otters involved in the firing of Chiitan, an otter who formerly held the job of honorary tourism ambassador for the city of Susaki in southern Japan. To make matters even more confusing, two of the otters involved in this beef are named Chiitan, and two of them are not real otters, but rather otter mascots made by the same designer.

Thanks to essential reporting by The New York Times, we have a clearer picture of how it all went down. Chiitan (who I will call Chiitan I), the real otter who was unceremoniously booted from her job, was originally granted the position because of her large social media following and the fact that giving an otter a job is objectively a cool thing to do. At the time, the city already had an official otter mascot, Shinjokun, who was based on an extinct species of river otter. Shinjokun, it absolutely must be noted, wears a “bowl of local noodles” as a hat.

When Chiitan I was hired, the designers who created Shinjokun made a mascot based on Chiitan I, also named Chiitan (who I will call Chiitan II). Chiitan II, it absolutely must be noted, wears a turtle as a hat.

Chiitan II, an unsanctioned mascot, then became thirsty for clicks, posting videos of herself performing a bunch of unsanctioned stunts, including beating a punching bag, tipping over a car, playing with a weed whacker, and menacingly sticking a baseball bat in her suit with the caption “Chiitan going to visit your house.”

According to the Times, the city received over 100 calls complaining about Chiitan II. So they decided to fire Chiitan I in an attempt to dissociate themselves. But, as the Times reports, this has only conflated the two even further: “Posts about Chiitan being ‘fired’ (the mascot and the real otter have the same name) have since gone viral on social media, incorrectly implying that the city had officially sanctioned the rogue mascot’s cheeky antics.”

Meanwhile, Chiitan II is continuing her shenanigans, while Shinjokun is still the official mascot and still inexplicably wears a bowl of noodles as a hat.

Most importantly, all of this remains both rude and disrespectful to Chiitan I, considering that she remains out of a job through no fault of her own.

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