China’s First Hello Kitty Theme Park Celebrates Inauguration

 

Yes, it’s true! The first international Hello Kitty Park (there’s one in Hello Kitty’s home country Japan) was just inaugurated November 28, 2014 and is set to officially open on January 1, 2015.

Construction began back in 2011 and thus far, the project has cost over $300 million US dollars to construct. The 150 acre theme park expects one million visitors each year. The park celebrated its completion last Friday with invited guests dancing, eating and signing the inauguration board with Hello Kitty characters. According to The Hettema Group website, the new Hello Kitty Park is meant to be the Sanrio characters’ very special home-away-from home.

kitty-9_3122392k

REUTERS — Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk/news

The theme park is located in Anji, Zhejiang province, which is approximately a three hour drive west of Shanghai. Known for its rich forests and greenery, Anji is definitely an appropriate location for Hello Kitty’s “nature” theme park. The name was a selling point as well.

“Hello Kitty Park is the first in China. But why did we choose to build it here in Anji? Because Anji is a good name,” explains Frank Liu of New Insight of MGMT. “In Chinese it means both peaceful and auspicious.”

kitty-3_3122386k (1)

REUTERS — Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk/news

CL1331-Hyphen728x90

Nature’s five elements (wood, fire, water, metal, and earth) parallel with the five garden zones of the park for interactive activities. An area is also reserved for a world festival to feature important holidays such as Chinese New Year.

2014-11-28T104404Z_473545903_GM1EABS1E4H01_RTRMADP_3_CHINA-ENTERTAINMENT

Photo courtesy of yahoo.com

The park also has an official website (not yet in English) which maps the six different zones of the park. Each zone is home to a different Sanrio character. This includes the classic Hello Kitty (Hello Kitty’s Home), her friend My Melody (Melody Village), the adorably green Keroppi (Happy Harbor), tough guy Badtz-Maru (Steam Kingdom) and banana-lover Monkichi (Spirit Forest). The sixth zone will be a comprehensive Friendship Plaza for characters to play together.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 9.46.49 PM

Xinhua/Xu Yu — Photo courtesy of xinhuanet.com

The park will also have a luxury hotel, and yes — the rooms will be decorated in Hello Kitty theme. What do you think? Disney World or Hello Kitty Park for New Years?

 

A Hello Kitty Cafe is Finally Coming to California

 

Calling all Hello Kitty fans in California! We have even more good news for you. The 40th anniversary of our most beloved Sanrio character brought us the Hello Kitty exhibit in the Japanese American National Museum, the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt and even the very first Hello Kitty Convention. Well, it looks like the celebrating is far from over.

During the Hello Kitty con, a pink food truck not only brought adorable donuts and macarons, it also brought exciting news: A Hello Kitty Cafe is finally coming to California!

Aside from it’s expected opening in 2015, not much is known about the upcoming Hello Kitty cafe. Although the website it still rather mysterious, it links to an Instagram showing a number of Hello Kitty themed food and the pink food truck.

Check them out below. They’re sure to leave you at the edge of your seat in excitement!

 

Top 15 Adorable Hello Kitty Cakes

 

Sanrio seems to be going all out this year for Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday. In fact, the world’s first ever Hello Kitty Con was held this past weekend. And don’t worry if you missed it. The convention may be over, but the birthday celebrating sure isn’t.

The Japanese American National Museum’s newest exhibition, Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, will be up until April 26, 2015. You can also take part in the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt until November 21st, which has participating locations offering limited edition Hello Kitty themed food and beverage items as well as a collectible Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt enamel pin.

So why all the big fuss, you ask?

Sanrio’s Yuko Shimizu  introduced this iconic, mouthless kitty in 1974. According to Sanrio, Hello Kitty, who’s actual name is Kitty White, was born in London, England. She is the same height as five apples stacked on top of one another and her weight is three apples put together.

By 1999, Hello Kitty was appearing on 12,000 products yearly. By 2008, Hello Kitty was responsible for half of Sanrio’s billion dollar revenue. There were over 50,000 different Hello Kitty branded products in more than 60 countries.Today, Hello Kitty is worth $5 billion a year and has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Even if you can’t make it out to the Hello Kitty exhibit or participate in the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt, you can still celebrate the birthday of our beloved Hello Kitty with one of these adorable Hello Kitty cakes.

For today’s #tbt, check out our Top 15 Adorable Hello Kitty Cakes below.

 

 

hk 1 hk 2 hk 3 hk 4 hk 5

hk 6 hk 8 hk 9

CL1331-Hyphen728x90

hk 10 hk 11 hk 12

hk 13 hk 14 hk 15

hk cake

(Source)

 

The Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Mixes Our Two Favorites: Hello Kitty and Food

 

November is finally here! Aside from the countless pies you’ll consume during Thanksgiving, there’s another reason for you to be excited this month: November is Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary!

There have already been multiple ways to celebrate the creation of our beloved Sanrio character. Hello Kitty has collaborated with everyone from Vans to Sephora to bring you limited-edition Hello Kitty items. You also could check out Japanese American National Museum’s newest exhibition, Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty. This is the first large-scale Hello Kitty museum in the United States and it will be up until April 26, 2015. Most exciting of all, some of you celebrated our favorite Sanrio character this past weekend at the world’s first ever Hello Kitty Con.

If you missed the Hello Kitty Con or simply feel the need to celebrate more, don’t you worry. One other way you can celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary is with the Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt.

 

 

You read that correctly. This event mixes two of our most favorite things: Hello Kitty and food. For a limited time, various restaurants and dessert spots are participating in #HelloKittyHungryHunt .

Each location offers a limited edition Hello Kitty themed food or beverage item as well as a collectible Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt enamel pin exclusive to each location. Locations include Cafe Dulce, Lollicup and Seoul Sausage. For a full list of participating locations, click here.

The Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt began on October 24th, but it’s not too late! The hunt will continue until November 21st. Be sure to take part in the hunt will supplies last!

 

Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Collectible Pins.

Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt Collectible Pins.

 

 

Feature image courtesy of sprudge.com.

Top 5 Things You Have to Do at Hello Kitty Con

 

In celebration of Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, Japanese company Sanrio is throwing the world’s first ever Hello Kitty Con this weekend, starting today. Yes, there is a plethora of over-the-top cuteness to gawk and squeal at, but before you get overwhelmed, follow my guide below to ensure you get to the best stuff before anyone else.

Oh, and if you’re not one of the lucky ones who managed to your hands on a $20 ticket — they sold out weeks ago — you can still check out the Japanese American National Museum’s special exhibit “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” going on now through April 2015. And you can get your hands on some exclusive anniversary limited edition cuteness at Target and Sephora.

But if you are going to the convention this weekend, here are my picks for the top five things you have to do at Hello Kitty Con.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.59.53 AM

 


 

1. Sanrio Signing Booth

As soon as you enter the indoor convention area, turn right and head toward the Super Supermarket. Once you’re in the Supermarket, make another right and head over to the artist signing area. Not only can you get Sanrio artists to personally draw and sign a Sanrio character just for you, but if you’re lucky, you’ll meet Yuko Yamaguchi, Sanrio Tokyo’s Hello Kitty Head Designer, who will be there to personally draw, sign and distribute supercute pictures to her fans. The wait can get as long as two hours, so put in your request fast and then pick up later after perusing the rest of the Supermarket. You can pick up stuff from Sephora, jewelry designer Chan Luu, Beats by Dre, or cute Asian American-owned lifestyle brand Poketo.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.54.05 AM

Yuko Yamaguchi.

 


 

2. Dream Carnival inside Target Presents: The Adventures of Hello Kitty and Bullseye

This special section inside the Target room (located on the opposite end of the convention from Super Supermarket) lets you play games, win points and redeem for cute prizes ranging from Hello Kitty T-shirts to the Hello Kitty con exclusive Target Bullseye Dog dressed in a removable pink Hello Kitty track suit. The games are easy enough for most kids and you can play them as much as you want, racking up points. Just activate an RIFD card in minutes and play on!

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.32.07 AM

 


 

3. Target’s Floating Photobooth Area

While you’re in the Target room (#HelloKittyCon@Target), head over to the Floating Photobooth. There are three scenarios to choose from — Underwater Exploration, High Flying Fun and Outerspace Odyssey. Just enter your email and pose! You get a cute little gif as a nice souvenir. (Just try to be more creative than we were. That camera shoots super fast!)

photoStrip

 


 

4. Nail Art by Masako Kojima

Who is Masako Kojima, you may ask? Only Sanrio Tokyo’s vey own resident nail designer! And she’ll be here to personally do up your nails with some seriously irresistible Hello Kitty custom nail art.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.43.07 AM

Can’t get nail art done by Masako Kojima? Cheat a little with these NCLA X Hello Kitty nail wraps.

 


 

5. Meet Hello Kitty herself!

She’ll be performing performing daily in a sneak peek of Sanrio’s new live entertainment show Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival, but she’ll also be popping up in the Friendship Village so be sure to get your photo snapped with her highness of supercute! (Can’t find her? No worries! Kawaii cuteness abounds and everyone is more than happy to pose with you.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.58.51 AM

 


 

And an honorable mention: the 3D printer Makerbot will be printing Hello Kitty figurines, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to take one home!

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.02.35 AM

Makerbot printing a Hello Kitty figurine.

 


 

Check out some more of the supercuteness at the convention below:

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.59.39 AM

Get your first taste of the upcoming Hello Kitty Cafe at the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck — macarons, doughnuts, even bow-shaped water bottles!

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 11.00.12 AM copy

The Main Stage at Friendship Village.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 11.01.26 AM

In fashion more avant garde than supercute, real-life models mingle among mannequins.

 

 

JANM Opens New Hello Kitty Exhibition

Los Angeles just got a little cuter with the opening of Japanese American National Museum’s newest exhibition, Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, organized with Sanrio in honor of Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary.

The first large-scale Hello Kitty museum in the United States, Hello! takes fans –– both the kids and the kids-at-heart –– on a trip through the brand’s archives, featuring vintage memorabilia, collections from collaborations and artwork that depicts the character’s evolution from a Japanese cultural figure into a global phenomenon. Visitors have the chance to view special pieces like the plastic coin purse –– the first Hello Kitty item Sanrio sold back in 1975 –– as well as Hello Kitty kitchen appliances, skateboards and surfboards and even a pair of boxers with the face of everyone’s favorite kitty stamped all over.

Gary Baseman for JANM

Gary Baseman for JANM

Older generations have the chance to journey back to their childhood with the wall of display cases featuring every Hello Kitty backpack Sanrio has ever produced. Another wall is lined with Hello Kitty plushes released throughout the years, giving viewers a visual representation of the brand’s transformation.

“I think our art portion stands up to any art exhibition in LA right now,” Dr. Greg Kimura, President and CEO of JANM, said last night at the VIP party for the exhibition, which was MCed by Japanese American actress (and former Audrey cover girl!) Tamlyn Tomita.

Hello Kitty vintage plush, 1976

Hello Kitty vintage plush, 1976

The art gallery proudly boasts 40 mixed-media works created specially for the exhibit by well-known artists such as Audrey Kawasaki and Gary Baseman, as well as collaborating brands like tokidoki and Swarovski. The celebrity and fashion portion of the exhibit illustrates the far-reaching influence of Hello Kitty, featuring the dress of plush toys Lady Gaga once wore for a photoshoot celebrating the character’s 35th birthday.

JANM has also opened a pop-up store for the exhibition, where visitors can purchase exclusive Hello Kitty for JANM items like pins, bags and coin purses.

The exhibition will be on view through April 26, 2015. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 6-17 and free for ages 5 and under. JANM members receive free admission.

14-0510_EDU_Multicultural_Parent_Banner_HS_AudreyMag_BD1

Hello Kitty Turns 40! Check Out How You Can Celebrate It

 

Hello Kitty is turning the Big 4-0, and like most people hitting a milestone birthday, she’s going all out. Celebs and big-name brands are clamoring for special collaborations — everyone from Major League Baseball and celeb chef Roy Choi to cosmetics giant Sephora and Japanese fine jewelry line Mikimoto.

But it’s not just bling and goodies. The Japanese American National Museum is hosting the first-ever Hello Kitty exhibition, titled “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World Of Hello Kitty,” starting October 11. The first-ever Hello Kitty fan convention, Hello Kitty Con, is kicking off on October 30 at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles. And the Line Hotel, Roy Choi’s newest project, will offer a Sean Knibb-designed Hello Kitty suite, complete with Hello Kitty iHome products, toiletries by Sephora and turn-down chocolates from Dylan’s Candy Bar. Needless to say, it’s gonna be a major, supercute party.

And the woman behind the party — well, other than Kitty herself — is president and COO of Sanrio, Inc., Janet Hsu. It seems Hsu was born to be the boss of Hello Kitty — she and the iconic feline share the same birthday. Here, Hsu shares her Sanrio memories and what it’s like to work at what must truly be the happiest place on earth.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.49.00 PM

Audrey Magazine: What’s your earliest memory of a Sanrio character?
Janet Hsu: My earliest memory of a Sanrio character was of Little Twin Stars, who continue to be my second favorite Sanrio character(s). I remember receiving a Little Twin Stars product as a gift when I was very young. I loved the celestial theme and that Kiki and Lala are twins (just like Hello Kitty). Since I am a twin, I treasured the idea of the two experiencing the world together.

AM: Your offices must be super cool! What’s it like?
JH: The Sanrio offices are filled with the many kawaii items! There is definitely a lot of eye candy, with products showcased in all different sizes, from a wide range of categories, and from different years and decades. Since so many of our employees are die-hard fans themselves, some may possess an “anything Sanrio” hoarding mentality! The Sanrio offices also showcase a great collection of original artwork.

AM: What’s the best thing about working with Sanrio?
JH: The company’s philosophy, the characters and the people. Sanrio has always been about social communication — connecting people and communities, and the “small gift, big smile” philosophy of bringing joy to all. There is so much energy, passion and love for the brands that there is a very strong, unified company mindset.

AM: If you could be a Sanrio character, who would it be?
JH: I would be Hangyodon. I think it would be fun to be a sea creature — half-human, half-fish. Also, he is very unique looking, and even though he is not as well-known as some of the others, there is something very familiar and friendly about him. He is also really comedic — so I would like to laugh the most I can every day.

AM: Who’s your favorite Sanrio character?
JH: My favorite Sanrio character is Hello Kitty. Ever since I was a little girl, Hello Kitty would bring a smile to my face. She has grown up with me and continues to evolve, to integrate herself into the modern day and current pop culture, yet always stays true to being about pure happiness. Many adults grew up with Hello Kitty and have formed their own relationship with her. She has a comforting effect, and her Zen-like disposition makes her relationship with every person special and unique.

AM: Do you have a dream collaboration for Hello Kitty?
JH: Experiences that connect with fans are key. We have a fan, a junior high student, who created a rocket with Hello Kitty to send up to space. This was very inspiring. So a dream collaboration could be a space experience with Hello Kitty.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.55.13 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.55.28 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.59.45 PM

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.58.03 PM

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

 

14-0510_EDU_Multicultural_Parent_Banner_HS_AudreyMag_BD1

“Sorry to keep you waiting, boys” — Sanrio Launches Hello Kitty Men

 

For years, Sanrio has catered to the female audience. That’s not to say that their products couldn’t be used by and loved by men, but it’s definitely harder to find a Hello Kitty shirt in men’s sizes. Well, Sanrio is looking to change that.

In honor of Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, Sanrio launched the Hello Kitty Men Project to encourage men to love their mascot without shame and without stereotypes. The project launched a six-day “Hello Kitty Men” exhibition, which started on September 10th. The exhibit will feature a new shirt line designed by Nendo and graphic designers Mina Tabei and Atsushi Ishiguro. Most exciting of all, the event may have a visit from Yūko Shimizu, the original designer of Hello Kitty.

kittymen

Here’s the translation, courtesy of Dramafever:

Thanks for waiting, boys.
And hello to all boys!
I’m Kitty. Up until now, I’ve been loved by a lot of girls.
But it’s always been on my mind.
Not only girls, I want boys to be around me too.
So I’m just going to do it.
Hello Kitty Men Project, a Kitty for boys!
The first part is going to be a t-shirt exhibit, in collaboration with designers.
Cool, right?
I’m going to be coming up with new forms of Kitty.
So stay tuned.
Hello Kitty Men.

Project Start!

 

14MKT_IW_728x90

Photo courtesy of dramafever.com

Avril Levigne Responds To Criticism About Offensive “Hello Kitty” Music Video

You may have missed the recent controversy surrounding Avril Lavigne’s new music video “Hello Kitty.” After all, the video was taken down the same day it was uploaded onto YouTube.

The video to Lavigne’s single “Hello Kitty” has received criticism left and right for its cultural appropriation. Simply put, it’s 3 minutes and 19 seconds of sushi, bright colors, expressionless Asian back up dancers and random Japanese words. All of this prompted Billboard to call the video an “embarrassment in any language.”

Even some of Lavigne’s most loyal fans (who wouldn’t even necessarily call the video intentionally racist) definitely saw why it was problematic to use a culture as a prop. They were certain that Lavigne would release an apology. Were they right?

Well, 21 hours ago, Avril responded to all the criticisms and allegations of racism.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 4.57.51 PM

Now we can all let out a collective sigh and eye roll. Is this an apology for a lapse in judgement? Absolutely not. In fact, it sounds like the cop-out excuse: “I have an Asian friend so I can’t be racist against Asians!” Yup, we’ve all heard that one before. If she had noticed that she offended people and sent an apology because that was not her intention, our feelings would be different. Despite an overwhelming amount of people shaking their head at the video, Lavigne, as well as a number of fans, still don’t see the problem.

To reiterate what we said early, the reason people are upset over this video is because “it uses Asian culture as a prop. Even the expressionless back up dancers are simply a backdrop. There is a very big difference between embracing a culture and using it as an accessory. It is not appreciation to trivialize an entire way of life.”

Avril, why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?

 

 

Why People Hate “Hello Kitty” by Avril Lavigne

Yesterday, Avril Lavigne released the music video to her new single “Hello Kitty” on YouTube, but in a blink of an eye it was removed. Billboard called the video an “embarrassment in any language”  and Entertainment Weekly claimed that there “are serious questions about whether it’s offensive.”

Why?

Well it may have a thing or two to do with all the cultural appropriation. Lavigne’s video includes all things stereotypically Japanese — sushi, Japanese schoolgirls, bright pink colors and even expressionless Asian back up dancers. Throughout the video, Lavigne throws out Japanese words like “arigato” and “kawaii.” That’s right. Her lyrics are actually “Thank you! Cute! Cute!”  Apparently, there’s no need to have lyrics that make sense as long as you blurt out the most stereotypical Asian words you know.

As you can expect, audiences are torn. Loyal Avril fans have stood by her side and see nothing wrong with the video. Fans on her official website are claiming that “Hello Kitty” is far from offensive. In fact, they believe that the video should be praised for “doing something different.”

Of course, even more people are arguing that Lavigne’s cultural appropriation is far from new and different. We saw this with Gwen Stafani’s “Harajuku Girls,” with Katy Perry’s Geisha performance and especially in Alison Gold’s infamous “Chinese Food” video.

For loyal fans who are confused, the reason people hate Avril’s “Hello Kitty” is because it uses Asian culture as a prop. Even the expressionless back up dancers are simply a backdrop. There is a very big difference between embracing a culture and using it as an accessory. It is not appreciation to trivialize an entire way of life.

As Huffington Post explains, “Borrowing from another culture is most problematic when it plucks from a minority group (especially one that has been exploited or otherwise oppressed). Using aspects of another culture from a position of privilege is a means of additional exploitation in that it disregards the shared experiences that led to the development of the culture in question and uses ideas and traditions for their benefit.”

The video was removed from YouTube, but check it out here and tell us what you think.