Who is Moichi?
Our irresistible store mascot, or as we like to refer to him here, our Kino Spirit Animal, had been making his presence known last month as we celebrated our 15th anniversary.
He’s been on our anniversary catalogue, embossed on our limited edition journal, in our gallery and his cute-as-a-button face has been plastered all around the store in posters and the like. We are sure you are all wondering, WHO exactly is Moichi? Read on to find out…
The Moichi character first came on the Kino scene in 2014, an intrepid ‘book discoverer’, as part of our Christmas campaign. He is an avid reader, on a constant journey of self-discovery in the books that he reads.
He was named after Moichi Tanabe, the former Books Kinokuniya president who opened the first Kinokuniya bookstore in January 1927 in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. That first Kinokuniya store was located a two-story wooden building with a floor space of 125m2 and had a whopping total of five employees.
To create the character of Moichi, we approached none other than artist and illustrator Charles Santoso, whose whimsical, heartfelt and beautiful style we felt to be perfect for this project. We spoke to Charles and asked him a few questions about how he created Moichi…
K: Moichi is certainly a unique and very cute character – we love him! How did you come up with him? Where did you draw inspiration from? And, what is he??
C: Thank you! I came up with the idea from Kinokuniya’s tag line “Real bookstores still exist”. I wanted a character that represents something that’s rare and unique but also feels familiar to lots of people. I was thinking of something alongside of characters like Sasquatch and Yeti. You can see Moichi as one of their distant cousins. A character full of curiosity and hungry for great stories, Moichi has loved books since he first discovered them. No one knows Moichi’s real gender but lots of people assume that Moichi is a male.
K: You have a great talent for creating very memorable characters, not just with Moichi, but in your picture books like The Snurtch, I Don’t Like Koala and Ida, Always. What is your secret? And what do you think is important to consider in art, illustration and the creative process?
C: Again, thank you very much! I always start with thinking how characters can be genuine in their story. After that, I do lots and lots of sketches until I find that spark. I gather inspirations from my personal experience and also from resources around me. The quest to find a character’s look is an unpredictable adventure. Some took longer than others but mostly end on a high note when they’re done right. For me personally, the creative process is about exploration, evolution, being patient, open and honest to oneself. These values, combined with good collaborators (Kinokuniya bookstore is one of them) give a high chance for a much better creative result.
K: What was your favourite book when you were growing up?
C: A book that stayed in my mind for a while was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
K: What do you think was Moichi’s favourite book growing up?
C: Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear books.
Since his first appearance on our 2014 Christmas Gift Guide, not only Moichi has been in our art gallery and our 15th Anniversary catalogue and limited edition journal, he’s been on tote bags, bookmarks and badges; we’ve had him riding a pony and even had a spectacular cake created in his image by the talented Baked by Andres.
And though he has only made his appearance recently in the last few years, we think that Moichi will be with us for a while. We’re looking forward to seeing what he gets up to, and all that he discovers on his bookish adventures.
Who is Moichi? In a nutshell…
Moichi is Kinokuniya Sydney’s furry blue mascot. He likes reading, eating strawberry watermelon cake and punk music.