Hello Kitty Named Japan's Tourism Ambassador to China

posted on by Egan Loo
Sanrio cat's "Visit Japan" campaign aims to raise foreign tourists to 10 million

The Japanese government has "appointed" Hello Kitty as its tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong on Monday. Japan previously named 11 individuals (including the pop music duo Puffy AmiYumi) as tourism ambassadors, but Sanrio's feline mascot is the first fictional character. Hello Kitty will be part of the "Visit Japan" campaign that has helped increase foreign tourism by 60% since it started in 2003. 8.35 million foreign tourists visited Japan last year, but the campaign organizers are hoping to raise that number to 10 million. Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs already appointed the manga robot cat Doraemon as its "anime cultural ambassador."

The Hello Kitty's Dream Light Fantasy stage musical opened in Beijing earlier this year, and it will later travel to other countries, including the United States. Several Hello Kitty manga have been created over the years — from a 1976-1979 one in Ririka magazine to Hello Kitty Peace!!, the most recent manga by Anzu Momoyama that will launch in Ribon magazine on June 6. Hello Kitty has been animated several times over the years, and veteran Japanese voice actress Megumi Hayashibara (Ranma ½'s female Ranma, Evangelion's Rei) has played her in almost all of them. ADV Films released English-dubbed versions of some of the videos. Sanrio just launched the closed beta for the Hello Kitty Online massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG) in February and is attempting to expand beyond its traditional female audience by selling Hello Kitty apparel to men in Japan.

Source: Jiji Press, The Associated Press

Image © 1976-2008 Sanrio Co., Ltd.

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