Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Raika (Ryker?)

What is this supposed to be? A horny duck? A bearded platupus? The truth turns out to be even stranger than either of those guesses. In order to understand what Raika is, and how he became the team mascot, however, it is necessary to learn a bit about the history of football in Toyama Prefecture. Way back in the JSL era, there were two fairly competitive club teams in Toyama, supported by the two largest corporations in the area. YKK AP is a construction materials manufacturer (specializing in window sashes) and Hokuriku Electric is the electric power utility for the entire region. Both teams had considerable success in the JSL, and after the J.League was formed, in the JFL. Both also had their own unique, and very popular mascots.


Hokuriku Electric's team went by the name of Hokuriku Alo's -- the name was supposedly an abbreviation of "antelope", and the team mascot was Alo-kun, based on a type of mountain goat that lives in the the mountains of the Shinetsu and Hokuriku regions. Although it is most closely related to the Japanese deer, its prong-like horns apparently caused some English-speaking locals to start referring to it with the word "antelope".

The YKK team mascot (which apparently never had an official name) was based on a type of migratory sea bird, similar to a duck, which is found in large flocks on the shores of the Toyama coast. Both mascots were particularly appropriate for a team from Toyama prefecture, and both had a certain amount of wacky charm.

 As football gained popularity in Japan, and the J.League steadily expanded to two divisions, many fans in Toyama began pressing YKK and/or Hokuriku Alo's to adopt an independent structure and begin competing for entry to the J.League. However, Toyama was clearly too small to support TWO teams, so the big question was -- which team would make the bid for professional status. As the idea of building a J.League franchise gained momentum, fans of both teams realised that the best solution was to join forces. So YKK AP and Alo's Hokuriku merged to form Kataller.

But what was to become of these two highly popular team mascots?

In a bit of ingenious genetic engineering, graphic designers for the new club found a way to splice the genes of the two mascots and created a hybrid Antelope/Duck named "Raika" (or perhaps a more appropriate spelling would be "Ryker").  Amazing what a bit of biological inventiveness can do!


Old Uniforms

Click on the small pictures to see a larger-size image

2008 (H) 2008 (A) 2009-10 (H) 2009-10 (A) 2011 (H) 2011 (A)
2012 (H) 2012 (A) 2013 (H) 2013 (A) 2014 (H) 2014 (A)
2015 (H) 2015 (A) 2016 (H) 2016 (A) 2017 (H) 2017 (A)
2018 (H) 2018 (A) 2019 (H) 2019 (A) 2020(H) 2020 (A)
2021 (H) 2021 (A) 2022 (H) 2022 (A) 2023(H) 2023 (A)