Let’s Talk About Hello Kitty

Below is an English translation of the sixth of 31 essays/short articles in Takemoto Novala's recently published 乙女のトリビア, or Trivia for Maidens, originally published in Zipper magazine.

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Let’s Talk About Hello Kitty.
That Kitty Always Around You

Do you remember the news story of a Hello Kitty pendant, its face made of 9 carat diamonds, its nose a sapphire, its eyes onyx, and its bow made of rubies, worn by Britney Spears in her music video for Do Something, which was released in Japan as a one of a kind item, and actually sold, despite having a price tag of 5.5 million yen?

It’s true that Britney Spears is a big Kitty fan, and Mariah Carey and the famous Hilton sisters are also in love with this character. Kitty is beloved not only in America, but all over the world. In Japan, there have been tons of collaborations lately between clothing brands and Kitty-chan. At first it was most common amongst 109-style brands like Material Girl, Liz Lisa, and Rose Fan Fan, but now even the lolita brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright joined hands with the character. And even I, Novala, have started producing a Kitty series, Hello Kitty Pour Lolita…

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita Gothic Edition - 1st Edition

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita White Edition - 1st Edition

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita Punk Edition - 1st Edition

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita White & Gothic Editions - 3rd Edition

How much information do you know about Hello Kitty? Her full name is Kitty White. She was born on November 1, 1974. There are 4 members in her family and her hobby is baking cookies. Her height is the height of 5 apples. Her weight is the weight of 3 apples (please don’t think it’s strange!). She has type A blood, and for some reason, she is from London!

The person who decided all of this is Kitty-chan’s mother, her designer, Shimizu Yuko. Shimizu believed that characters created just for decorating various items should still have a history the same as characters from myths and cartoons. Shimizu only dealt with Kitty-chan from her creation in 1974 until 1975. The second designer to work with Kitty was Yonekubo Setsuko. She was in charge of Hello Kitty from 1975 until 1980. She looked at the many images Shimizu had drawn of Kitty, and decided that the image with her face looking straight forward and her body sitting to the side was the cutest best image of Kitty, the pose we all know today. That is, the Kitty we know today was brought into this world by these two designers, Shimizu and Yonekubo.

In 1980, Yamaguchi Yuko became the 3rd designer of Hello Kitty. The Kitty we know today has a rounder face than she did in the 70s. This change was made in 1982 by Yamaguchi-san. In 1994, rather than a ribbon in her hair, Kitty wore a hibiscus flower, and in 1995, she wore a nurse’s uniform – that is, there have been many incarnations of Kitty over the years, but even now most are based on Yamaguchi’s version.

Of course I’m sure you are know that Hello Kitty is created by the Sanrio company. But until shortly before Kitty’s birth, Sanrio was known as the Yamanashi Silk Center. Yamanashi Silk Center was founded in 1960. At first it was a small company selling things like wine. But even though they tried various things, they did not find financial success. One day, the president, Tsuji Shintarou, said “Let’s buy some beach sandals, add a floral pattern, and sell them.” All the employees thought this would never work, but they sold incredibly well. Then the president said, “rather than just a floral pattern, how about printing a cute illustration?” They hired a girl who could draw illustrations, and these illustrated beach sandals were also a huge hit.

And now, a question to my readers. That illustrator they hired later went on to become a famous young genius illustrator. Who was it? …The answer? Mizumori Ado-san. Don’t you think this is incredible?

In this way, Sanrio grew larger and larger, but increasingly there were complaints that they were a worthless company, putting images on cups and pencil cases and selling things for a higher price just because of this. However, Sanrio answered thusly: “Why do we wear makeup? Why do we decorate our room with flowers? We want to make everyday beautiful and fun. The reason we put characters on our goods is the same reason.”

We want to be beautiful all the time. We want to be dazzled. This is the basis of style. Kitty-chan holds this way of thinking. After all, she was born in London! Don’t you feel like you can understand the reason she is an ageless idol?

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Are you a Hello Kitty fan? I think she’s cute, but I’m not a huge fan. However, I absolutely adore Novala’s Pour Lolita line! I have a great many items from these collections...mugs, plush dolls, straps, pens, stationery…I wish I had everything!

One other thing I love about Hello Kitty is that no matter where you go in Japan, you can find Special Edition Hello Kitty phone straps limited for that location. This is mostly a tourist thing, of course, but they are so cute! In Kyoto, you can get a Kitty dressed in kimono, in Harajuku, dressed as a gothic lolita (this is a separate design from Novala’s lolita designs!), in Osaka, dressed as a takoyaki chef – or even as takoyaki itself! These themed Kitties are so fun to collect. I used to have no fewer than 24 hanging off my phone, until they got to be just too much to carry around, and I simplified to having only the Osaka one. Currently I have the Novala White Edition and a Gloomy on my phone…until recently I had the Gothic Edition as well but the strap broke! I need to get that fixed and reattach it…

Harajuku Theme Hello Kitty

Osaka Takoyaki Kitty phone strap


Chii-chan said...
March 26, 2010 at 9:50 PM

ha ha, Kitty-chan is a tourist mascot for everything!
the NYC Sanrio store rebranded themselves to sell nothing but Hello Kitty in "i ♥ NYC" things and overpriced purses

*likes Chococat better anyhow*

The Osaka Koneko said...
March 26, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Sure is!! When I went to Australia they were selling koala and kangaroo Kitty straps there too! :D

AmyG said...
June 1, 2010 at 3:13 PM

That was fascinating! Thanks so much for the translation. <3 I'll definitely keep checking back for more!

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