|Image from the Asahi Shimbun website|
I have noticed being in the U.S. there is a Hello Kitty fashion craze going on. Now it might have already peaked and could be on the way down. I asked one of children wearing a crazy colored Hello Kitty t-shirt if she knew where Hello Kitty is from. She looked surprised and said, "What do you mean? Where?"
I replied smiling, "From Japan!" The student looked at me in disbelief and retorted," But she speaks English not Japanese."
The girl sat down in her chair perplexed by our conversation. It seems that HELLO KITTY has gone native in America.
In Japan things from other countries are often advertised as foreign and that can actually contribute to them becoming fashionable or trendy. That being said sometimes the reality is that those items are not particular valued in their country of origin.
When it comes to animation and cute characters, Japan has no shortage, no need to import. In fact Hello Kitty is one of the most recognizable characters in the world.
HELLO KITTY comes in as number one
In the United States Japanese items have a particular allure and charm to them. However, animated characters tend to lose their original Japanese identity. Pokemon, Yu-gi-Oh and Hello Kitty are all long standing popular items in the United States and seems that most young kids and maybe even adults may just assume they are American creations. My experience in conversations leads me to conclude that in general most Americans tend to lump Asian countries and cultures together. Electronics, cars, anime, chopsticks, rice, sushi, etc. many people have no idea what country produces what brands or items, or which country specializes in what. To most it's "all the same."
But instead of going down that road and debating origins, or other divisive topics, I will just say Japan has done a good job making a good reputation for itself.
And Sanrio seems to have got a winner with the one and only orginal Hello Kitty!