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Mexico City, Mexico
May 8, 2002
Officially Hello Kitty was born on 1 November in suburban London, England, weighing the same as three apples. She likes small, cute things, candy, stars, goldfish, etc. Kitty is a cheerful, warm-hearted little girl. Baking cookies is her forte, but what she enjoys most is eating a slice of Mama's apple pie! Kitty and her twin sister Mimmy are the best of friends.
Hello Kitty is the brainchild of Sanrio Corporation and thus making her a thoroughbred of Japanese creativity and marketing despite residing in suburban London. Hello Kitty was a runaway success from her creation in 1974 onwards and has spawned over 100 support characters – each with its own biography, birthday and whatever a character needs to get on in life.
Little girls in Japan – and increasingly in other Asian countries and even other continents - have a fascination with Hello Kitty and her support cast. They usually outgrow this by their teens but for some women it continues well into their late 20s. By then many have their own children and can presumably continue the craze masked as entertainment for their babies. Truth be told it is somewhat disconcerting to meet a women in her late 40s in a Hello Kitty shop all dressed up in Hello Kitty stuff and speaking like a little girl. Many of the stuff being sold in Hello Kitty shops clearly aim at an older audience than little girls.
In a Hello Kitty shop you can basically dress your whole world from the cradle to the grave in Hello Kitty merchandise. The range is awesome and would do many a department store pride. There are the obvious like all the paraphernalia usually associated with babies and little girls, then it moves into books, make-up and clothes. The options are limitless – sheets, towels, hair driers, electric desk fans, microwave and toaster ovens.
Hello Kitty is being sold practically everywhere in Tokyo. The two official Sanrio shops are in Ginza and Shinjuku but all department stores stock the stuff and many supermarkets and discount stores as well. Smaller shops selling nothing but Hello Kitty are also found in most neighborhoods. The 100-yen shop in Roppongi is usually reliable to have a small supply of bargain Hello Kitty stuff as well. Occasionally McDonalds run out of Olympic Games and World Cup events to sponsor and push Hello Kitty dolls instead to draw the crowds in – many a Hello Kitty doll dressed up in anything from jeans to Kimono were bought at less than $3 during these promotions to warm little hearts all over the globe.
If you expect a baby in Japan there is basically no need to buy Hello Kitty stuff prior to delivery to keep up with the Joneses (or Suzukis). Friends and colleagues will set you up with enough of the paraphernalia to see your child into Kindergarten at the very least.
From journal Tokyo - bargain shopping and dining
August 28, 2002
It is amusing to wander through the great food emporiums at the major department stores, like Matsuya, Mitsukoshi, Matsuzakaya, Wako. You can browse through the wide variety of products on sale, and perhaps sample a few delicacies. If you want to do a bit of adventurous noshing, walk through any of these food halls to try some snacks or perhaps a sip of tea or beer.
The distinctive cylindrical San-ai Dream Center building, which stands at a busy intersection in Ginza, is one of the first generation of exciting and different modern buildings from the 1960's to make an architectural impact on Tokyo.
From journal Bill in Japan - modern TOKYO