Japan has a very well developed public transportation system that includes trains, buses, and subways. Japan also has a fascination with all things cute to the point of saccharine overload. Tama-Center Station in Tokyo, Japan is where these two things intersect. This train station is dedicated to Hello Kitty, an anime star since 1974.
She now heads an entertainment empire that is worth around $5 Billion US dollars a year. She deals in videos, merchandise, and even a theme park, located near the Tama Center station, called Sanrio Puroland. I did not insist on visiting this local attraction, as just the atmosphere of the station itself was enough to make my teeth ache. I don’t even have teeth!!!!
The main attraction is a truly large mural featuring various Hello Kitty characters that spans a large expanse of the ceiling. It is a popular photo op for children passing through. The ceiling is so low however that getting a picture of the whole thing at once is very difficult. My transportation specialist tried a number of angles, but I finally got fed up with fiddling around and went to find something to eat.
That’s where I found this guy. Apparently, General Tso has some competition here (Actually General Tso has only gotten me blank stares around here.) Unfortunately this establishment wasn’t open while we were at the station, but just knowing it’s around is a small comfort. The Colonel‘s product is something of a rarity in the normal Japanese diet, although it’s making some headway. Those Japanese that recognize Thanksgiving celebrate by eating here, as turkeys are somewhat scarce in Japan.
Eventually our wanderings in the station turned up this helpful display that lists some of the major Hello Kitty characters. Of course, it might be a little hard to read from the picture. And the fact that it’s Japanese. The translation specialist could probably puzzle most of it out but by then the semester might be over and we have other places to go!
Until then, Hippo, Hippo.