Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets are omnipresent in Japan, distinguished by life-size statues of Colonel Sanders outside most of the 1,100+ locations. While not technically mannequins, the statues frequently don different outfits to celebrate holidays, festivals or what have you.
The results - 13 of which are shown below - are often amusing and serve an age-old purpose: grabbing the attention of passersby. (Colonel Sanders image via Dorkboy Comics)
Hundreds of KFCs across Japan deck out their mascots with red Santa suits every December in what is perhaps the most common variation on Colonel Sanders snow white suit.
An old dude with a white beard... it's a natural! As is a KFC chicken dinner, according to KFC Japan spokesman Sumeo Yokogawa. "Kentucky for Christmas" has become an established notion here," he said. (Colonel Sanders image via VOX)
The Great Pump-chic-ken
Getting the Colonel all Halloween like isn't an easy job in Japan but orange you glad somebody did? The vampire cape and orange turban make a nice combo too. (Colonel Sanders image via VOX)
Here's our poultry pitchman decked out in a schoolboy uniform to celebrate the first day of school. Betcha he's the ONLY schoolboy celebrating but that's by the by. Weird, yes, but it could be worse - he could be wearing a Japanese schoolgirl uniform. (Colonel Sanders image via Quaisi.net)
Maid Fresh Every Time
Not quite a schoolgirl uniform, but close enough (and disturbing as well). This particular statue was seen outside a KFC store in Akihabara, Tokyo's geek mecca and ground zero for maid culture. (Colonel Sanders image via Internet Saio)
Now this is wrong on more than a few levels. The Colonel embraces cosplay while also embracing a panda - who seems less than thrilled.
Wearing a sumo-style fat suit, carrying an axe and with hair styled in the traditional Japanese manner, Sanders-san appears to have gotten into some of those secret herbs and spices. Especially the herbs. (Colonel Sanders image via Quaisi.net)
Breaded, Fried, Tarred & Feathered
Fried chicken and watermelon? Not just an offensive racial stereotype anymore, it's the new KFC! It's not clear whether Japanese outlets have added watermelon to the menu - breaded & deep-fried, perhaps - or the Colonel's just cooling off on an average hot & humid Japanese summer day.
It's no isolated fluke either, as this other kimono-clad Colonel from Kobe (left) suggests. (Colonel Sanders images via David Ing and Quaisi.net)
Harland Goes Hawaiian
They don't see many Kentucky Colonels in Japan, so this particular KFC outlet decided to give their Sanders statue a makeover that would better represent the foreigners people DO see. Thus, the gaudy Hawaiian shirt.
Nice that they didn't go further and place a camera, handgun or begging bowl in the Colonel's outstretched hands. (Colonel Sanders image via Snakmagic)
Spicin' It Up
The Colonel's looking really hot in his official KFC happi coat. What better way to promote the new "Reddo Hotto Sando"... maybe it's better not to ask. (Colonel Sanders image via Mine)
The East Will Rise Again!
Don't call him chicken, this Colonel looks fit to fight! Judging from his warrior regalia and the "koinobori" carp banner he's clutching, it looks like the statue's home store is preparing to celebrate Boy's Day. (Colonel Sanders image via Vyxle)
Girls Will Be Colonels... or Vice-versa
Japan also celebrates Girl's Day and so, reluctantly we assume, does KFC's proud founder. At least we can't blame the damned yankees for this one. (Colonel Sanders image via Quaisi.net)
24-Hour KFC TV
Colonel Sanders can't make a living flogging fast food, it seems, so he's moonlighting as a salesman for "24 Hour Television", whatever that is. Perhaps he was promised a discount on commercials - we all know how hungry one gets at 4am. (Colonel Sanders image via Alien Residence)
Curse Of The Colonel
Baseball fans in Osaka are somewhat less amused by the smiling pitchman, as the home team Hanshin Tigers of the NPB's Central League are said to suffer the Curse of the Colonel.
The Tigers haven't won a Japan Series title since 1985, when boisterous victory celebrations saw a statue of Colonel Sanders from a local KFC tossed into the deep, muddy Dotonbori Canal.
The story goes, the ghost of Harland Sanders (who died in 1980) was so upset he placed a curse upon the Tigers - who have now gone 24 years without a national championship.
Hope has been renewed, however - on March 10 the statue's torso was finally found and the next day, the lower body and one hand. Will the recovery of the statue end Hanshin's long drought? All we can do is wish them good cluck. (Colonel Sanders images via Tofugu and Mainichi Daily News)
Get In Lion, Seibu
It may be too late for Tigers fans if the above photo is any indication - Col. Harland seems to have dumped one big kitty for another. Whaddya say, Colonel, cat got your tongue? For Seibu fans, the lion forms at the right. (Colonel Sanders image via Taro's Father's Blog)