The Hello Kitty Bullet Train Plus Other Hello Kitty-Themed Must-See Spots in Japan
Many of us grew up with Hello Kitty-themed lunchboxes and apparel, singing to the famous Hello Kitty song as the TV show starts during weekend mornings.
Hello Kitty was created by Sanrio way back in 1974, and has sparked a worldwide phenomenon ever since. Since 1983, she has also been United States children's ambassador for Unicef, and more recently, Japan’s official tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong. Today, around 50,000 Hello Kitty products that’s sold in more than 60 countries account for more than half of Sanrio’s annual $1 billion revenue.
But if there is a country more enamored to this animated character, nothing can beat Hello Kitty’s birthplace, Japan. This is why Japan has become host to a number of Hello Kitty-themed attractions to attract both local and international tourists into the prefectures—from restaurants and theme parks to a full-scale bullet train!
Here are some of our favorite themed destinations if you’re planning to create a Hello Kitty-themed itinerary on your next visit to Japan.
Nothing can be more popular amongst Hello Kitty fanatics than this huge Hello Kitty theme park, which attracts over 1.5 million visitors every year. Since 1990, Sanrio Puroland has been hosting musicals, an incredible parade, walking mascots, restaurants, and themed rides for Hello Kitty fans young and old. Located at Tama New Town in Tokyo, the park is full of Sanrio characters and attractions, and is filled to the brim with Hello Kitty souvenirs.
Travelers who have been to Puroland swear by their magical parade, which is the highlight of the whole day. In Summer, fireworks close the theme park so it’s nice to visit during this season—and you avoid the possibility of rains, too!
Travel tip: Lines can get long, just as in most theme parks, so it’s better to visit on a weekday because locals swarm the theme park during weekends.
Hello Kitty Smile restaurant
One of the newest additions to the Hello Kitty Japan haven is the Hello Kitty Smile restaurant on Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture. The Oriental restaurant just opened on April 27, and features luxury fusion food that uses organic and eco-friendly produce sourced in the island.
The restaurant is a long Hello Kitty-shaped facility, and houses a theater that shows Hello Kitty movies, a Hello Kitty car, and a magical space that’s equipped with projecting mapping that brings to life the world of Hello Kitty.
Travel tip: Make sure to sample their luxurious High Tea, where you can sample cute and tasty treats, and over 50 varieties of tea all around Japan.
Café de Miki
Hello Kitty fans would know that even though Hello Kitty is created by a Japanese company, their vision for her was to be a young female student who lives outside London. For this exact reason that we recommend anyone who is in Japan to visit Café de Miki, a Hello Kitty-themed café that takes Hello Kitty’s Japanese roots and marries them with her life in London.
The English-Japanese café located at the Diversity Tokyo Plaza in Aoyama, Tokyo features Hello Kitty in her English element, beautiful themed desserts, coffee, and tea. Truly an Instagram-foodie’s dream!
????·18????????????????????!?????????????????????(#^ ^#)? pic.twitter.com/zfLKHFvYNq— Cafe de Miki (@cafe_de_miki_d) September 14, 2015
Travel tip: Visit the café on your birthday and the staff will treat you with a mini desert plate with a Happy Birthday message!
Hello Kitty Shinkansen
If you’re planning your Japanese Hello Kitty itinerary, better visit Japan after June 30 because that’s when the very first Hello Kitty Shinkansen bullet train will start operating. Operated by the Shinkansen train operator, West Japan Railway Co., the bullet train will run between the Osaka and Hakata lines, and showcase the regions of Japan in true Hello Kitty flair.
When the bullet train starts operating on July, the first region to be highlighted is Sanin, home to the Shimane and Tottori prefectures. In the next months, the train will then highlight the products and attractions of Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, and Fukuoka.
Inside the train is a Hello Kitty shop that sells Sanrio merchandise, a “Kawaii! Room” for photo opportunities, and Hello Kitty-themed seats to rest in while you wait for your stop. The Hakata station will also open a Hello Kitty café for those alighting the train.
Travel tip: Tickets can be purchased on the day from the Shin-Osaka or Hakata stations, but you can also reserve online through the Hello Kitty Shinkansen website to make sure you won’t run out of slots.