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Hello Kitty and the Culture of Cute
Hello Kitty was created in 1974 by Sanrio – the very first product was a clear vinyl coin purse bearing the face of Hello Kitty, which sold for 240 yen or approximately two dollars. Surprisingly, Hello Kitty was intended to be named ‘Kitty White’ after one of Alice’s cats in the Lewis Carroll classic through the looking class. At the time, British culture was the height of fashion amongst Japanese girls, and Hello Kitty was never intended to have any appeal beyond the pre-adolescent female market.
One of the first words foreigners learn upon arriving in Japan is the all-important catch phrase kawaii (cute, lovable). The favorite three syllables of most women in Japan, cuteness is a cultural obsession that few foreigners completely understand. While Western beauty and fashion stresses the importance of women looking sexy, a large percentage of Japanese females strive to attain the highest possible level of kawaisa (cuteness). Incorporating everything from brightly colored hair-extensions and fluorescent eye make-up to knee-high socks and flowery dresses, Japanese fashion can simultaneously shock your senses and melt your heart.