Meeting Hello Kitty at Sanrio Puroland
The 6th of December is a special day.
It is the day of Saint Nicholas, where the Santa-like figure leaves little presents in children’s shoes and stockings.
This is what we found outside our door in Tokyo that morning. A chance to meet Hello Kitty.
Oh, joy ☆*･゜ﾟ･*\(^O^)/*･゜ﾟ･*☆
｡^‿^｡ How we ended up at Sanrio Puroland ｡^‿^｡
On the 6th of December, St. Nicholas left us with Hello Kitty themed gifts, snacks, chocolate lollies, a hair bow and (self made) tickets to Tokyo’s Hello Kitty World, called Sanrio Puroland.
I admit the presents were a bit one-sidedly girly but St. Nicholas drew our attention to the fact that on the 6th of December 2013 Puroland was opening its doors for free!
It was a one time opportunity to visit and so we did. I might add that we have also seen Gundam in Odaiba and played with Gundam robots in HongKong. Tomek and I called it square.
“Say Hello to me when you see me!” and “Look at my ribbon!” were tasks from the feline creature I knew I would be able to manage, because Hello Kitty’s residence is conveniently located at Puroland.
｡^‿^｡ How to get to Sanrio Puroland ｡^‿^｡
Puroland is located in Tokyo’s Tama area, on the capital’s western outskirts. It takes about 35 minutes by train to get to Tama Center Station from Shinjuku Station (Keio, Odakyu lines; there is also Tama Monorail line stop at the Tama Center Station). Then it is a five minute walk to the theme park.
Location: 1-31 Ochiai, Tama-shi, Tokyo
- Entrance+all shows with the Welcome Ticket: 3,000 yen for adults, 2,700 yen for 12-17 year olds, 2,000 yen for 4-11 year olds
- Entrance+ all attractions with the Passport Ticket: 4,400 yen for adults, 4,000 yen for 12-17 year olds, 3,300 yen for 4-11 year olds
The shows are only in Japanese (which is why we skipped, the other reason being the tremendous queues on the day of our visit).
How we knew about the free day? A friend told us about the Sanrio Thanks Party Day and I am not sure if it was a one-off only. These were the special events on the 6th of December 2013: http://www.puroland.jp/2013_sanrio_thanks_party/index.html.
Check the official page for updates: http://www.puroland.co.jp/english/welcome.html.
The theme was “Arigato Everyone” and Hello Kitty was saying “thank you” while celebrating her 40th birthday. Hello Kitty was created in 1974 which makes her older than me BTW.
Anyhow, once you get off the train, you will see many Hello Kitty themes along the way to the amusement park.
｡^‿^｡ How to prepare for Puroland ｡^‿^｡
Best prepare and bring a kid. We didn’t have a four year old by our side, which is why the bow-present came in handy and with a few fashion tricks (wear a lot of pink and many bows), I was in disguise and under Tomek’s parental guidance. We were ready to roll.
Tomek said that the hair bow made me stand out in a way it made me easy to spot, hence I didn’t get lost.
The entrance to Kitty-chan’s wonderland.
Initially I thought that with no toddlers in tow, we would stand out from the rest but there seemed to be as many kids as adults, and probably even more teens.
Mums and grown ups looked way more dressed up than the kiddos.
I wasn’t the only freak.
Main Puroland activity – taking pictures!
｡^‿^｡ Puroland Activity areas ｡^‿^｡
Purland is nothing like Disneyland or Universal Studios and if you are looking for exciting rides and activities don’t get your hopes up high.
Puroland is very low key and more like a hypercute shopping mall-theme park satisfying the likings of 3 to 12 year olds.
Interior design is from 1990, which is when the theme park opened to the public, and consequently carpets, floors and most interiors are out-dated but I think Puroland is undergoing some gradual restructuring. The Hello Kitty residence for one, looks brand new.
There are only two rides in the park, the Sanrio character boat ride (which takes 10 minutes and which we skipped due to the queue going up the stairs and reaching the next floor).
The other ride is Kuromi’s Rent-a-Car ride. The Sanrio characters My Melody and Kuromi invite you to ride a pink car through their world.
The Wisdom Tree Stage is the place not to miss. It stages the main show at 1 and 5.30 pm, with all the big Sanrio characters putting on a musical performance called Arigato Everyone.
A sweet end to a Puroland visit.
There is the Märchen Theater merging Hello Kitty and Alice in Wonderland themes for a 40 min show.
Fairyland Theatre offers My Melody on stage for 35 min. Discovery Theatre also offers a 30 min show.
Make sure you pick up your guide map with the show program and arrive early at the theatres. Room for seating and standing is limited and we saw filled up theatres way over 30 minutes before the start of a performance.
To sum it up, Puroland is basically a bunch of shows and some themed areas to walk through.
Not everything is included in the entrance fee. Many things on offer cost extra.
The 100 yen popcorn machine.
Lucky Pack bags for 2,000 yen. It can get pricey when you plan to splash out on souvenirs and snacks at Puroland, on top of the entrance fee.
Teens were having the greatest fun at all activity areas.
There was an autograph session on the day, with Sanrio artists drawing favourite characters.
｡^‿^｡ Puroland attractions ｡^‿^｡
Puroland is basically stage-show-land with extensive shopping opportunities.
I liked Puroland’s kumade bursting with cute stuffies. Kumade is a decorated bamboo rake and a traditional good luck token in Japan.
The main entertainment areas span two floors and centre all around the Wisdom Tree Stage, which is a walkway when the big musical show is not on.
During the musical show Hello Kitty comes down a carriage and reunites with all the other characters.
It was quite odd but amusing watching grown adults with no children singing and clapping along to Hello Kitty songs.
Any time in-between shows, you can walk up the Wisdom Tree in the middle of the stage and enjoy a Japanese temple tuned to the general hypercuteness.
Ring the bell of happiness at the temple.
Make a wish and leave an ema (usually a wooden wishing plate, here a pink and baby-blue bell-card).
Wisdom tree offers a love test which may turn out not to be such a wise idea. By putting one hand on a magic mirror and holding hands with your loved one, the machine determines your mutual love – in percentages. It might elevate your mood or, in the worst case ruin the day for friends, couples and families.
Results like these can suck. But we managed. Tomek and I are still together.
In between the shows you can tour various theme areas, like Candy, Bread or Juice Factory.
The more elaborate Sanrio character world areas (easily identified by the queues) are the home of Little Twin Stars Kiki and Lala which you can visit on the Twinklingtour or the Lady Kitty House, where you can’t escape a photo op with Hello Kitty.
Prepare for long waiting lines for Twinklingtour and Lady Kitty House, watched over by smiley guards.
｡^‿^｡ Hello Kitty Home Highlight ｡^‿^｡
We stood a long time at Hello Kitty’s front yard and watched Hello Kitty TV until we were braindead.
Hello Kitty TV. Did not ease waiting time. At all.
Finally, the doors opened and we were led into the Hello Kitty house foyer with a grand piano and grand sofa.
Her flat is a modern, open studio with projecting alcoves and Hello Kitty was obviously preparing for Christmas, too. With a big Christmas tree on her veranda.
Hello Kitty’s home is a mix of Japanese-European traditions and pretty kitsch. Kitty in kimono. Tea ceremony with Dasza Traveler.
A cupboard opens when you least suspect it. Even more surprising is the bear. Kitty keeps a bear in a cupboard.
The bear-sofa appealed to Tomek. And I was just glad, he smiled. (Grown up) boys can have a tough time at Puroland.
Hello Kitty’s high-tech wardrobe.
If you stand in front of Hello Kitty’s wardrobe mirrors, the dresses will cloth you automatically.
Clothes are so tailored as to suit all sizes and both sexes. Kawaii. Couldn’t agree more.
The dressing room was classy and shows Hello Kitty’s real age. Red lipstick, lots of powder and heavy perfume. Going towards middle age.
The opulence of British milk tea was somewhat obscene. Tea time at Hello Kitty’s house. Hello Kitty is British but more on that further down.
You can try out Hello Kitty’s bed, too. And if you do, you will find out a secret. Hello Kitty loves to watch TV, hidden behind the baldachin which is why all the kids lie still and mesmerised once they get on the bed.
Meeting Hello Kitty. The moment all hardcore fans are waiting for (dedicating over an hour for the honour).
I seriously disliked that 1) there is no way out than to pass through the meet-Hello-Kitty-room (that takes another unavoidable queue to get to), 2) you are not allowed to take a picture of Hello Kitty and yourself with your own camera, 3) the only way to get a picture is to pay for it. C’mon Puroland, the reason why kids (or apparently adults) come to visit is to meet the white cat. Let them take a picture.
Hate to wait.
｡^‿^｡ About Hello Kitty – the British gal ｡^‿^｡
The feline icon is known all over the world and Sanrio’s bestseller, still grossing most of the company’s profits. To us, she is representing Japanese kawaii culture, however to Japanese she evokes British life. Hello Kitty’s last name, for instance is White and she was born in London. Seriously!
She has a British background as the UK was particularly popular in Japan in the 70s – the decade she was created.
Hello Kitty is five apples tall and weighs the same as three apples. Her favourite word is friendship, her favourite colour is red, and her favourite food is homemade apple pie.
Kitty-chan also likes to eat cookies and play the piano.
Her date of birth is the 1st of November 1974 and she has a family.
Did you know that Hello Kitty has a granny and granpa? She does and you can meet them in Puroland.
Mimmy is her younger sister (who wears the ribbon on the opposite side to Hello Kitty), her parents are papa George and mum Mary, there is also grandpa Anthony and grandma Margaret. Hello Kitty has a pet cat named Charmmy Kitty and a pet hamster named Sugar. Her male friend and sweetheart is Dear Daniel Starr, who gave her the hamster.
｡^‿^｡Twinklingtour – meet the Little Twin Stars｡^‿^｡
After a sweet story, how the Twin Stars Kiki and Lala landed on earth and why Kiki has a star attached to his back while Lili carries a magic wand (though no one explained why they only have one toe), we entered their dream world through a hidden door.
If you are taller than 1 meter, their dream world will pass you at about knee height.
Crawl along the floor to see the cupcakes in their kitchen.
I am having Kiki’s blue drink. Looks like curacao cocktail in a tea cup.
More developmental regress was triggered when we had to catch bears, deer, giraffes, elephants and sheep falling from the sky. We like animals, hence we did our best and saved many. Sadly not all.
And of course, exit through the gift shop.
｡^‿^｡ Shopping at Puroland ｡^‿^｡
Shop for any kind of moulded Sanrio plastic – Hello Kitty gadgets come in the cutest forms and colours. Puroland is also sort of a shopping mall. You can go crazy but I have read mixed reviews about prices and Puroland-uniqueness of products.
Particularly girls and women buy products that like white Kitty, symbolise purity and innocence.
If your favourite colour isn’t pink, you are screwed. At Jewelland Gate shopping.
Generating little cute creatures for a selfie.
Shopping opportunities are extensive and you can get anything imaginable with the feline icon. Anything you have ever wished for. Or be surprised what consumers wish for.
Some things were odd. Like framed Hello Kitty art.
Some souvenir strategies were familiar. If you haven’t been to a gaming parlour with crane machines in Japan, you have not seen Japan.
Found a gay-pride Hello Kitty set. Well, maybe. Hello Kitty is pretty flexible when it comes to merchandise.
St. Nicholas got me my hairband from the DAISO 100 yen shop. I win.
These were not aimed at kids. I kid you not.
Yaiks. A black Hello Kitty with crystal eyes.
Pleasing perpetual travelers.
Even glasses were on sale!
The most expensive sovenir was behind glass – a bit higher than for the average five year old to see. Phew. I mean, that is more than most parents can afford.
If nothing else, enjoy the signs in Japanese-English.
Get a pink eye at the Hello Kitty stickers rack.
Where are the kids?
I found a kid! Adorable girl.
The best souvenir were the photo ops. And I took way too many.
｡^‿^｡ (A word on) Puroland Toilets ｡^‿^｡
Japanese toilets are a fascinating topic in its own right, but Puroland restrooms do not disappoint either.
Stunning fairytale kitsch from the 90s.
｡^‿^｡ (And a few words on) embedded marketing ｡^‿^｡
I thought that the amount of product placement of brands were a bit intrusive. I only took two pictures but there were maaany products hovering in the background, or with less subtlety but more in-your-face- strategies.
The Mitsubishi car ‘salon’ at Puroland.
At first I thought this car was a give-away to a lucky winner of some sort of a Puroland draw. It wasn’t. It was a pink Mitsubishi car which you can buy.
And a weeny bit of politics. Wall painting with a book on (nuclear?) power plants.
Well, to be fair, I cannot complain about the product placed into my hand as we were leaving Puroland.
｡^‿^｡ Puroland food ｡^‿^｡
There are various places to grab a bite. Namely, the Sweet Parlour, Character Food Court and the Food Machine Restaurant.
The food was a bit disappointing regarding Tokyo’s leading culinary position. I would have loved to see more Hello Kitty food art. But I guess, kids dig that stuff.
Here is best of Puroland food pics, I could find.
The special on the day was this Chromium black curry.
Puroland canteen food.
Character lunchboxes and latte art.
Ramen with best-of-Sanrio-characters nori sheet.
Needles to say, the vending machines on site are pricier than what you pay for a drink outside. Bringing your own bottle of fluids is a good idea.
｡^‿^｡ Sanrio Puroland characters ｡^‿^｡
Hello Kitty and My Melody are the most popular Sanrio characters. That creative company is the brainchild of countless creatures. Sanrio artists come up with new cutsey images all the time. The continuous production is amazing.
To the point that by the end of the day I developed a headache.
Sanrio characters were all over the place but only the less popular ones were accessible without a waiting line. Most of which I have seen for the first time. Like Badtz-Maru, the black penguin.
Kuromi and My Melody characeters.
Bonbon Ribbon, the pink rabbit is Sanrio’s 2012 invention.
More cute creatures.
Children’s tadpole drawings – the huge walking head – has become reality.
Some faun (not sure) and me.
Surprisingly, there is a museum at Puroland. However, despite the crowds, not many people end up here. Maybe because the museum was a lifeless poster exhibition.
Some main characters are shortly described on boards but it is all in Japanese. This would have been a great opportunity to serve mature fans.
At least I learned that my favourite character, My Melody, and I have more in common than the affiliation to big hats and hoods. We were born the same year!
And we like to dress up.
｡^‿^｡ Sanrio Puroland at night｡^‿^｡
The dream castle lights up in the evening and many Sanrio figures were illuminated, when we were walking back to the station.
Japanese Christmas decorations on the way between Sanrio Puroland and Tama Centre Station.
Even on the train back home, Sanrio Puroland was still with us.
My final tip for alternative distraction. Walking towards the station from Puroland, you will see a shopping mall and a huge Daiso 100yen store on your right. It’s a must go and just as Japanese as Hello Kitty!