The winning pair of mascots for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, chosen by elementary schoolchildren nationwide in a public vote, was announced Feb. 28.

Designed by Ryo Taniguchi, 43, an illustrator in Fukuoka Prefecture, the two mascots bear check patterns inspired by the emblems of the 2020 Games.

“I don’t know what to say (to describe how it feels to win). I want to tell my beloved wife,” said Taniguchi.

The illustrator, who studied at a university in California, has drawn illustrations for English teaching materials for children published by correspondence education operator Benesse Corp.

Taniguchi’s two mascots were labeled together as Candidate A in the vote.

The pair tallied 109,041 votes from elementary school classes throughout the country, far outnumbering the 61,423 votes and 35,291 votes for the Candidate B and the Candidate C pairs, respectively.

Children were allowed to vote by classes as units, not as individuals.

Of the winning pair, the Olympic mascot is a character combining characteristics of tradition and the near future, while the Paralympic mascot is a character with cherry blossom-like antennas that possesses superpowers.

The winning mascots’ names, to be decided by Taniguchi and experts, will be announced in July or August.

The Candidate B pair depicted characters in the style of a “maneki-neko” beckoning cat and a “komainu” guard lion-dog. The Candidate C pair featured a fox and a raccoon dog.

A 17-member selection panel, headed by Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Ryohei Miyata, shortlisted the three candidate pairs on Dec. 7 from 2,042 works submitted by professionals and amateurs throughout the nation.

Elementary school classes started voting for their preferred mascots on Dec. 11. A total of 205,755 classes from 16,769 elementary schools, including Japanese schools overseas, voted in the competition, which ran until Feb. 22. There are about 21,200 elementary schools in Japan.