Hello Kitty has been an iconic bit of pop culture since the ’70s, when the doll was all the rage with little girls everywhere. With the familiar white, oval face emblazoned on everything from stickers to cookware, Hello Kitty has become a name everyone and their grandmother recognizes. Now, a tea house in Japan is betting on some big business using that familiar name.
The recently-opened Tea House Hello Kitty Saryo in Kyoto caters to anyone with a love for the bewhiskered puss, incorporating her face on bowls and in green tea latte foam. And of course, there’s lots of merchandise for visitors who can’t leave without a purse or doll.
The new tea house came about just in time for Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday, which is also being celebrated by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles until May. The museum is hosting a retrospective focused on the cat and the Sanrio brand called “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” the first of its kind in the U.S.
Hello Kitty made headlines last month when a new theme park in China received some very negative reviews and was called “cheesy” and “boring.” The park, which is located in Anji, cost around $350 million to build and confused some customers by inviting them to a “soft opening,” meaning not all of the rides were open at the time.
“We booked our tickets on the worst website ever made. English is minimal, and you can’t even copy and paste the traffic directions into Google Translate. Not only that, booking a ticket requires a Chinese ID. Then we jumped on the high-speed train to Hangzhou, thinking that a big pink Hello Kitty bus would be there, waiting to take us to the park. We finally arrived, only to learn that the park is in “soft-opening” mode, meaning none of the good rides are open yet. Soft-opening??? This is a 350 million USD theme park, not some tapas bar in Jing’an… This was like that time when Clark Griswold got to Walley World only to discover that the f***ing place was under renovation…” wrote Ian Louisell on Smart Shanghai.
The park was due to be fully operational by the end of February; the Hello Kitty retrospective runs in L.A. through May 31.
[Photo courtesy Tea House Hello Kitty/YouTube]