If you’re interested in Japan, especially in its pop culture, you probably know “Hello Kitty,” a kitten character with a red ribbon. But did you know that this finnicky little cat likes to do cosplays just like her fans all over the world?
When you travel to Japan, check out local souvenir shops, where you’ll find Hello Kitties in hundreds of different costumes! You’ll find a Kitty climbing Mt. Fuji, being in Harajuku Girl style, or disguising herself as a fish dealer at the Tsukiji Fish Market. They may be embraced by a Big Buddha in Kamakura or dressed like a Geisha in Kyoto. They’re often sold as a pen, a strap, a key chain or as a lucky charm and are very popular as souvenirs. The costume or background always have something to do with the area you are in, historically or locally. Ask the locals about the meaning of the costume! It might be a great opportunity for visitors to learn more about the local area!
Thanks to the Japanese “buy-a-souvenir-when-you-travel” culture and their need to buy something that is typical of that area, most souvenirs have developed these special ‘local’ charms. Food is no exception. Not just charms are bought as souvenirs, Kit Kat is a good example of a great souvenir to bring home to your family: Green Tea Kit Kats in Kyoto, Melon Kit Kats in Hokkaido, and Soy Source Kit Kats in Kyushu.
Hello Kitty in her many getups, together with a splash of local Japanese culture makes the perfect souvenir for your trip, together with a kitkat bar!
Want to know the best place to buy Hello Kitty?
Naturally the pink-tastic Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise in Odaiba!
It’s more like a mini indoor theme park – a pink place of madness presided over by a Hello Kitty as Venus statue (it’s in Venus Fort mall, do you see?). As well as a Hello Kitty shop, it contains a cinema, arcade and…. a Pancake Party!
Yes, like most of us, Hello Kitty’s idea of paradise is as many pancakes as you can eat, preferably with your own face stamped on them, and a side order of Melon Fanta (best drink ever). She even lets her friends in on this one – Kids will love this place, and so will you.
The rest of the place is less exciting, unless you’re a huge Hello Kitty fan – the small shop sells (obviously) Hello Kitty cuteness and there’s an arcade at the back with Taiko drum and Pokemon games, air hockey and even a mini JR train you can sit in. It’s worth having a wander though, as the decorations are crazy – as well as the enormous Kitty Venus, there are fountains and flying angel bunnies and pink bows ahoy.
When you are there check out the cinema! There’s also a kids play area if you need a break from yours. And make sure you have a peek at the rest of Venus Fort too – it has painted ceilings that change throughout the day and in the winter there were lights to make it look like falling snow. Plus, there’s a small branch of Kiddyland for more kawaii.
Definitely one for the Hello Kitty fans, and anyone else should swing by if you’re in Odaiba (and like pancakes). I wouldn’t say it’s worth the trip in itself though.
Hello Kitty shop and statue. Photo by Tasty Miso
Hello Kitty’s Pancake Party
Maple pancakes and Melon Fanta.
How to get there
Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise is in the Venus Fort shopping mall at Palette Town on Odaiba. Odaiba is a man-made island in Tokyo Bay, which is connected to the rest of Tokyo via the Rainbow Bridge, monorail and boat. Both the boat and monorail are quite pricey so make a day of it – there’s plenty to see and do in Odaiba.
The monorail is called Yurikamome and connects at JR Shimbashi station. You can use your Suica card or buy a day ticket. Get off at Aomi station for Palette Town and the various malls are well signposted. Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise is on the lower floor.
The boat to Odaiba leaves from Hinode Pier, or you can take in some other sights on the way, including Asakusa and Hamarikyu garden. Do note that the boats only run a few times a day so check the timetables beforehand. We took the boat one way and the monorail back – the boat trip was fantastic with great views of Odaiba, Tokyo and the Rainbow Bridge. The monorail is quite cramped but runs frequently and quickly (also it’s a monorail and thus super-exciting!).
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