Posts Tagged ‘Hello Kitty’

Pulsations (8.17.2012)

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

Visual pulse:

Spoon & Tamago highlighted an exhibition at The Open Space 2012 of Rhythmushi, a nifty little hand-drawn music app that has quietly been building a big fan base over the last two years. If you can’t make it to Shinjuku for the hands-on experience, enjoy the video demo here.

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Ekitame — coming to a station near you soon?

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

 

Will shops like Glicoya Kitchen in First Avenue, in Tokyo Station, become destinations in their own right?

Running for the train? Not so fast. According to a trend report released by @Press, Japanese people are spending more time browsing in train stations instead of bolting through them. PR flacks are calling this shopping experience “ekitame,”  combining the words eki (station) and entame (entertainment), to refer to the station shopping mall as an entertaining destination in its own right. Focusing on the continuing success of Tokyo Station’s First Avenue mall, the report hints that this shopping complex may be the shape of things to come.

Instead of just being a convenient place for commuters to kill time,  this station mall exploits the fact that tourists from all around the country pass through Tokyo Station. Two areas of First Avenue are particularly adept at attracting tourists: One is Tokyo Ramen Street,  which has eight outlets operated by famous Tokyo ramen shops; and the other is Tokyo Character Street, which houses over 20 big-name character goods stores.

Over the years, speciality food theme parks have proved popular in other shopping malls in Japan, such as Gyoza Stadium, Ice Cream City and Dessert Republic in Sunshine City Ikebukuro. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that  Ramen Street has proved a hit since it opened in April last year. It is attractive to  Tokyo day-trippers who might not have the time to trek out to these famous ramen stalls, and long queues regularly form outside the shops. But it’s Tokyo Character Street that’s proved the biggest hit. Since it opened in 2008, around 5 million visitors have checked out the array of character stores, which include Hello Kitty Land and the NHK Character Shop, and this March three more stores opened here.

Looking to raise its profile as a tourist destination, First Avenue will launch a new area called  Tokyo Okashi (Snack) Land on April 14. Comprised of  three “antenna shops” (outlets used by companies to gauge public reaction to trial products) from major Japanese food brands Calbee, Glico and Morinaga, the area will entice visitors with limited edition souvenir sweets and the chance to see confectionery being made in the store.

We think the idea of ekitame might just catch on at other major transport hubs where tourists passing through have the spare time to enjoy browsing in specialty stores. And adding the station to the sightseeing itinerary is certainly an attractive option to the footsore tourist.

Cheburashka set to topple Kitty-chan?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Doutor Cheburashka original coffee set

Doutor Cheburashka original coffee set

From Dec. 3 visitors to Doutor coffee shop can get their mitts on limited-edition Cheburashka items unavailable elsewhere. Each week the free gift changes: in the first week free stickers are available, from Dec. 10 you can receive a clear A5 file and from the Dec. 17 customers get two free postcards. Stocks are limited so visitors to the store best get there early.

In addition you can buy a Cheburashka mug for ¥630, a Cheburashka original coffee set including mug, bag of drip coffee and tote bag for ¥1,800 and a 200-gram bag of premium mild blend coffee for ¥850.

It should be no surprise that despite being a Russian character, Cheburashka has connected with the Japanese and in early last month, a Japanese anime version of Cheburashka debuted on Japanese TV. Small childlike  (chibi) characters with large heads such as Rilakkuma or Hello Kitty are extremely popular in Japan, so diminutive Cheburashka with his cute voice and giant bonce ticks all the right boxes for entry into Japan’s kawaii (cute) hall of fame.

Originally a character in a Russian storybook, Cheburashka became a popular Russian stop-motion animation in in the late ’60s. The furry homunculus has a number of comical friends such as Gena, a kind of gentleman crocodile, and an enemy called old lady Shapoklyak who plays pranks on him.

The original stop-motion animation first aired on Japanese television in 2006, and the ensuing popularity soon turned the original Russian Cheburashka products into must-have collectibles. This toy is now on sale on Yahoo Auctions for a hefty buy-it-now price of ¥55,000. As the Dotour campaign attests, the merchandising of Cheburashka is no doubt generating a mountains of rubles.

The copyright to the character has been fiercely debated in court between Eduard Uspenskiy, the writer of the original books, and Leonid Shvartsman, the art director of the animated films. Uspenskiy won a recent ruling in 2007. Given the proven money-making record of Hello Kitty, Shvartsman is no doubt feeling extremely put out right now.

Ka-ching and bling for Hello Kitty at 35

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

This music player is decorated with 300 crystals

This music player is decorated with 300 crystals

Celebrating her 35th birthday this year, Hello Kitty’s popularity shows no signs of abating. Just like Madonna, she seems capable of endlessly reinventing herself to appeal to fresh audiences.

This sparkly Hello Kitty music player, for instance, on sale from Oct. 30, should appeal to streetwise girls with an eye for bling. Decorated with 300 Swarovski crystal elements the gadget goes for ¥13,800 — no cheap, yet not exactly high end either. The price is an indicator that while many designer brands seem to be taking a big hit on the high street, Japan’s love affair with Kitty is still going strong. Especially considering that the functions of the player are a little less than stunning; it offers only 2GB of storage, that’s space for only about 480 songs.

Sanrio, who produce Hello Kitty products, have unleashed a plethora of new items this year. From suitcases to foldable chairs, it could even be possible to furnish your house entirely in Hello Kitty paraphernalia.

While Kitty’s dominant color scheme tends to be pink, she can come in many guises − and not all of them cute. This gothic Lolita Hello Kitty was created by Japanese designer H Naoto in honor of the character’s 35th anniversary. “Hello Kitty can wear Laura Ashley but also punk rock leather. She has a wide audience, and she’s very flexible because everything goes with white,” said Kitty’s chief designer Yuko Yamaguchi in an interview with The Times back in 2004.

Kitty is a popular souvenir, especially when she dresses up in special costumes to indicate the area she was bought in, for example, in Fukushima she’s been transformed into a red cow (akabeko) and dressed up as a deer in Hokkaido.

While commemorative events appear to be drawing to a close in Japan, the Three Apples Hello Kitty Exhibition in Los Angeles at the Royal/T Art Space, has just begun and continues until Nov. 15. Hello Kitty’s chief designer Yuko Yamaguchi is flying to London today for a whistle-stop tour of department stores around Europe where she will be on hand to sign products for fans.

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