"Traditionally, the barricades are rather vanilla: pipes connected to a dull-looking plastic stand. However, around 2006, a construction equipment rental company called Sendaimeiban began collaborating with Asahiyama Zoo in Hokkaido to make “character barricades" that could be placed at roadside construction sites and be seen by buses of tourists."
As noted by website Naver, there are several theories why the anime style animal characters are popular. One is that they have a calming effect and can, thus, reduce road rage.
It’s also theorized that cute barricades improve attitudes towards construction zones. They’re powerful cuteness may also discourage people from hitting them with their cars.
Visit Kotaku to learn more about and view many more photos of Japan’s kawaii road barricades.