The Sanrio Company Story in Japan
Hello Kitty must be one of the most famous characters which is original to Japan. Hello Kitty was designed by a Japanese designer Yuko Shimizu in 1974. As you know, Hello Kitty is the main character of Sanrio, a Japanese company which produces many products, such as accessories, school supplies and so on. Today, Hello Kitty has become a popular culture in the world.
Sanrio was founded by a Japanese businessman Shintaro Tsuji in 1962s, but the former company only produced silk products in Nihonbashi in Japan at that time. The former company was called The Yamanashi Silk Company (Tsuji was brought up in Yamanashi prefecture in Japan. Yamanashi is located in the central region of Japan’s mainland). Tsuji decided to expand the business, but it took a long time for the business to get on its way.
The business only succeeded when Tsuji began to sell flip-flops with cute designs and characters on them. Then Tsuji also began to develop his own product by hiring some famous Japanese cartoonists for its designs at first, and these experiences made Tsuji decide to create his own designs and characters as a product.
In 1973s, the company changed its name to Sanrio and Tsuji began to create new businesses in Japan and a year later, the most famous Sanrio character Hello Kitty was born. Hello Kitty was first known as the white kitten with no name, and her real name is Kitty White who came from a story. Hello Kitty first appeared and was added to Sanrio’s merchandise as a coin purse in 1974. Before that, Sanrio used to produce other products which relate to its own characters and designs, but they gradually switched to more Kawaii stuffs (It means cute in Japanese) and characters since Hello Kitty was born. Since then Sanrio has continued to create many Kawaii characters, for example, Pompompurin, Cinnamoroll and My Melody. Sanrio came from two Spanish words, Sun and Rio, which means Saint River in English (Tsuji explains these stories on the Sanrio’s website).
Sanrio also opened its own theme park called Sanrio Puroland in 1990 in Tama New Town. At first, Tsuji was going to use the largest area for Sanrio’s warehouses, instead of opening the theme park. However, Sanrio had long desired to open its own original theme park in Japan, then Tsuji decided to change his mind. Today, Sanrio Puroland is one of the most popular theme park along with Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea in Japan.