This is a hedgehog with nearly 300,000 followers on Instagram.
Let me repeat that: This is a hedgehog with nearly 300,000 followers on Instagram. Got it? Yeah, meet Azuki, the hedgehog that is already way cooler (and cuter) than you or I will ever be.
Azuki is cool. Azuki is fresh. Azuki is the perfect respite from your ever-worsening existential dread. Just got another push notification for Trump’s tweets? Here’s Azuki wearing a hat! Did reading the details of the latest sexual-assault scandal erode your last shred of hope in the human condition? This is a video of Azuki eating an apple! Worried about the impending nuclear Armageddon? Aw shucks, that rascal Azuki got his head stuck in his play place.
In a world of never-ending sorrow and ever-compounding hate, Azuki is one of the few pure joys left. So Select All chatted with Azuki’s owner, Shuichi Tsunoda, over Instagram Direct to get the deets on this incredible testament to animal kind.
What do you need to know about Azuki? Let’s start with the basics:
A Capricorn/Taurus rising, Azuki first came to the home of his owner, Shuichi Tsunoda, back in February 2016. Tsunoda, a Tokyo-based commercial photographer, decided to make an Instagram account for his new pet almost instantly, and thus, a star was born.
Tsunoda told Select All that while Azuki’s account was pretty popular to begin with, the first real surge in followers came after he posted a short video of the pygmy hedgehog eating an apple. After that, brands started reaching out to the fledgling Instagram celeb about partnerships (though, Azuki’s sponsored posts are infinitely more entertaining than the usual #Ad junk you normally see posted by Influencers). His first collaboration, with camping-gear-maker Coleman Japan, actually produced the series of photos that launched him to superstardom:
“I take pictures of Azuki for about 15 minutes each morning after cleaning him,” Tsunoda told Select All. “[He’s] not self-conscious about being photographed. I just shoot the moment Azuki eats apples and mealworm.”
And it certainly seems like all of that photography has paid off, last year, Tsunoda received six book offers from publishers after Azuki went viral. His first book, Azuki the Hedgehog (tagline: I’m not a mouse, I’m a hedgehog!), came out this September.
“In Japan, hedgehogs are thought to be a type of rat, and generally don’t have a good image,” Tsunoda explained. “By publishing a photo book, I aim to raise awareness.”