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This character depicting Sapporo's TV Tower has been described as a yuru-kyara.
(c) KAME
Relaxed, undemanding
The adjective yurui is typically used in one of the following senses: "loose, or not tight"; "not well regulated"; "moist and lacking in firmness"; "gradual in slope"; or "lacking tension." In recent years, however, it has been used as an antonym for "severe" or "demanding" to mean "relaxed," "undemanding," "lazy," or "listless."

After World War II, amid remarkable economic growth, an intensely competitive corporate culture emerged in Japanese society. People became obsessed with educational attainment and, in turn, with passing mercilessly difficult entrance examinations for prestigious schools. In contrast, some Japanese have in recent years begun to advocate more slow-paced, easy-going lifestyles. The growing variation in the usage of yurui seems to reflect similar trends. At the same time, the term is often used to convey a sense of guilt for having neglected or avoided hard work or competition.

Illustrator Miura Jun, meanwhile, has coined the phrase yuru-kyara (short for yurui character) to describe the half-baked mascot characters sometimes adopted by national and local governments, which don't always turn out as endearing as intended. The word has also found an application in the fitness world in the form of yuru-taiso, which describes a type of exercise (taiso) designed to relax people mentally and physically through swaying of the body.

All languages evolve as speakers (especially younger ones) craft new words or expand the meanings of old ones. Still, some purists might insist that such shifts in meaning reflect linguistic standards that have become, well, yurui. (September 5, 2006)