Based in Tokyo, Japan, the Sanrio Corporation was founded by Shintaro Tsuji as the Yamanashi Silk Company in 1960, intended to produce a line of character merchandise and stationary appropriate for Japanese gift-giving occasions. In 1973 the company was officially established under the name “Sanrio,” which combines the Japanese word “San” (meaning three) and the Spanish word “Rio” (meaning river). By 1990, Sanrio was the largest greeting card company in Japan, with a cat named Hello Kitty as its most popular character. Currently, Hello Kitty represents roughly 5,000 of the 15,000 Sanrio products available, and she accounts for over half of Sanrio’s annual sales, which reached approximately $1.2 billion dollars (¥139 billion) in the year 2000 alone. Despite the fact that Hello Kitty has helped Sanrio gain worldwide notoriety, more than 90 percent of the company’s sales are generated in Japan, where Sanrio owns a restaurant chain, movie theaters and a production company, a television and video game series, book and magazine publications, two amusement parks, and a franchises a chain of more than 2,500 retail stores. [Read more…]
Shannon Grunewald is obsessed wih Hello Kitty. Most of the objects she uses in her everyday life involve Hello Kitty in some way, and she’s collected everything from Hello Kitty toilet paper to daimond jewlery. Why does she love Hello Kitty so much? “Hello Kitty is SO cute it allows me to embrace the part of me that refuses to grow up.”
Shannon loves the cute culture produced by Japan’s post-bubble society, and is planning a trip there soon where she will spend most of her time and money in the Harajuku District purchasing lots of tiny plastic objects covered in glitter.