#250- Hello! Hello Kitty!!

Do you know how old Hello Kitty is?

She is 40 years old.

As you know, Hello Kitty is not a cat, she is a girl… I mean she is a 40 year-old-girl.

I wrote a column about her on Senken-Shimbun (major Japanese fashion business newspaper) website. So, I would like to share it with you. Please read below (my translation into English from Japanese).




Published on December , 2014 (in Japan)

By Yoko Fujimoto
Writer in Los Angeles


Title of the column: Celebration for Hello Kitty in L.A.!

Hello Kitty” is a representative character of Sanrio Company, Ltd. and “she” is an icon of Japanese pop culture in U.S.A. as well.
This year is the 40th anniversary of “Hello Kitty”, and Sanrio and the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles (L.A.) (http://www.janm.org ) celebrate it by the special exhibition “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty”. The exhibition opened on October 11th.
600 items of the first product in 1975 (coin case), rare & unique products and collaboration goods with companies & designers etc. , and 40 items of artworks of Hello Kitty motif by artists.
Mr. Koji Steven Sakai who is a vice president of programs at Japanese American National Museum explained, “Japanese American had a hard time for a long time, because of the racism. We are introducing the history of Japanese American at our museum, but Hello Kitty gave us the light. Since 1970s, American people see us (Japanese American and Japan) good images through Hello Kitty. That’s why this exhibition has a big meaning for our museum”.
An annual visitor of this museum is 10,000 people, but the first month of this exhibition had 30,000 visitors. This tells how popular Hello Kitty is. Not only women visitors, they have men visitors with children. There are wide range of visitors (age and race).
Some Asian American women said, Why Hello Kitty doesnt have a mouth? Do men think that quiet women are attractive? and they see the image of a maledominated society. Most of American understands that Hello Kitty has a mysterious charm, because she doesn’t have a mouth. She can being with us anytime when we feel happy or sad. It’s a simple cute character”.
Many visitors impressed by the Lady Gaga’s Hello Kitty dress which made of Hello Kitty’s stuffed dolls. This exhibition is until April 26, 2015.
Kitty-chan who is wearing the kimono like a kokeshi doll at the entrance welcomes us
Pencils, pencil box, backpack, water bottle, gum etc. We can enjoy each product through many showcases
Coin purse, this is the first product of Hello Kitty in 1975
Toaster, Rice cooker etc. most of the daily goods are making into a product of Hello Kitty
Grown-ups are also able to enjoy cute lifestyle with a Hello Kitty champagne glass
Tie to suit, these are for men’s fan of Kitty-chan
Roller skate and surfboard, these are good for California lifestyle with Kitty-chan
“Many visitors are wearing Hello Kitty’s T-shirts, shoes, jewelries etc”, Mr. Koji Steven Sakai who is a vice president of programs at Japanese American National Museum said

Local Hello Kitty doll of California and Hollywood

Corroboration goods with L.A. apparel brands “Paul Frank” and “Vans”, anniversary figure of L.A. baseball team “Los Angeles Dodgers” etc., there are many rare products
From left, artworks of Mr. Michael Courville (accomplished prop master for films, television shows, theater groups, and Sanrio’s Puroland theme park in Japan.), Mr. Paul Frank (The owner & designer of L.A. apparel brand “Paul Frank”) and Kozyndan (American husband-and-Japanese wife team of Kozue and Dan Kitchens)
This summer, the statement “Hello Kitty is not a cat, she is a girl” is in the news. This artwork is by the Swedish artist Julia Sh who lives in Los Angeles
It looks like a delicious cake art by Osamu Watanabe who is known for elaborate paintings, sculptures, and installations that mimic sweet foods such as cakes decorated with candies and fruits
This sculpture is by Simone Legno who is the creative director and co-founder of L.A. apparel brand “tokidoki”. It has full impact
Kawaii fashion of Japan is leading by Kitty-chan
Many visitors say “wow!” in front of this Lady Gaga’s dress which made of Hello Kitty’s stuffed dolls

The other day, my mother who lives in Tokyo, Japan said to me over the phone, “What? Kitty-chan doesn’t have a mouth???  I thought she has it”.
Even though my mother bought me so many goods of Hello Kitty since 1975, she didn’t realize that Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth.

I realized that “I didn’t think about the Hello Kitty’s mouth is important or not?”

Now, I really think about the meaning of the mouth…and I think…the meaning of the mouth doesn’t matter, we can feel happy without words (we don’t need a mouth!).
After I wrote this column on Senken-Shimbun, I counted how many goods of Hello Kitty do I have at my home in L.A. (most of goods are from my mother).

1- Key holder (it’s old, so I don’t use it anymore, but I can’t throw away…it’s my mother’s gift)

2- Hand towel (from my mother. I am using this as a mat for an iPhone)

3- Pouch with a schedule note book (from my mother. she sent me this in 2002 from Tokyo, I don’t use it anymore)

4- Letters and envelopes (from my mother)

5- Pouch (from my mother. I am using it right now, my wallet & handkerchief & tissue paper & business card case are in it)

6- Some tissue papers (from my mother)

7- Handkerchief (from my mother)

8- Nightgown (I bought it at Bloomingdale's in L.A.)

I didn’t realize that I still have 8 goods of Hello Kitty at home in L.A. (I am sure that my mother & I have more goods in my mother’s house in Tokyo, Japan.) Hello! Hello Kitty!

How about you? Have you counted goods of Hello Kitty at your home?

I hope you enjoyed the Hello Kitty’s small story and you have a big smile like her philosophy “small gift, big smile”.

By Yoko Fujimoto
Los Angeles Dec , 2014
Copyright © 2014 Yoko Fujimoto 

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