Swine flu has struck Japan and the country is fighting back with its most reliable resources: face masks and cute characters. The latest mascot to make the scene is Gosshi, the hand-washing dog.
Created by a team of ace animators commissioned by Japan's Aichi prefecture (where the city of Nagoya is located), Gosshi features cute character characteristics taken from a dog and a bar of soap.
Gosshi's purpose is to compel kids - and adults too, as this is Japan - to wash their hands early and often to stop the spread of swine flu, e-coli O157 food poisoning, norovirus and other nasty infectious diseases.
Gosshi is the most visible part of a multimedia campaign instituted by the Aichi prefecture government that includes a special hand-washing song and explicit instructions on how to wash one's hands in the most efficient and effective manner.
The NHK television news report I watched yesterday showed the composer of "Gosshi Dog Wash", who happens to be a doctor, visiting schools and performing the song with a small back-up band. Several adults and elderly people were in attendance - all sang along with the Disco Doc and imitated the recommended hand motions.
We suspect that the Aichi bigwigs are hoping the tune and Gosshi himself (herself? itself?) will become a runaway radio, TV and cellphone hit like 2007's "Oshiri Kajiri Mushi" butt-biting bug song. We can only hope! (Images via Japan Probe and Yuka Kaino)