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Pop Culture in Japan: Hello Kitty and Hanako

Hello Kitty The Japanese have a fatal attraction for cuteness, which manifests itself in a menagerie of cuddly toys and cartoon characters on everything from bank cards to the side of jumbo jets. One design that has made an impact on overseas markets is Hello Kitty, a white kitten with a jaunty red hair ribbon. According to the official biography, concocted by parent company Sanrio, Kitty was born in London, where she lives with her parents and twin sister Mimi. The cartoon character, whose image graces an astonishing 12,000 new products a year, also has her own theme park, Sanrio Puroland, in the suburbs of Tokyo.

More trendy than cute is Hanako, the phenomenally successful style-bible magazine of young urban women. The popularity of the Australian pop artist Ken Donne in Japan is almost exclusively down to his work being featured regularly on the cover of Hanako, whose articles have whipped up a storm for many a consumer product or passing fashion.

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