The meaning of the word 'cute' in Japanese is 'kawaii' and on Sunday I went to what can only be described as the Mecca of 'kawaii' in Japan, which is Sanrio Puroland.
Sanrio Puroland is a theme park situated just outside of Tokyo that is devoted to all the Sanrio characters, the most famous being of course Hello Kitty. Everywhere you go in Japan you see Hello Kitty. She's on everything. In fact she's thirty years old this year and with her current popularity I expect she'll be around for many more to come.
I do have to admit though one of the most curious things I have noticed about Kitty, is that she hasn't got a mouth. Apparently, one reason I've heard for this is that it allows you to project however you're feeling onto her. If you're feeling happy, she's happy. If you're feeling a little bit down, she's a little bit down. If you're manically depressed because your wife has run off with the milkman, taken all your money and your dog has died, she feels.....
The outside of Sanrio Puroland looks like a huge pink castle, which I can't help thinking looks a little bit like a love hotel.
Walking in the first thing you come across is the Wisdom Tree, a huge construction sprawling out from the middle of the park. At the top of the Wisdom Tree is something not disimilar from a shrine, where you can ring the Happiness Bell for good luck and general all round happiness.
One of the major highlights of my day was going into Kitty's house. If you're the first person in the queue you even get to ring the door bell. Unfortunately I was second, although this didn't stop me all the same. Going into the house you get to see her kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom and you can also play on her piano. After you've walked through you can even have your photo taken with her.
The Fantastic Puro Adventure boat ride encircles the whole park. You get to see motorized versions of all the different characters in the places they live and even witness Kitty getting married. The music that accompanies the boat ride is probably the cutesiest I've ever heard as well and it'll be stuck in your brain for days afterwards. Really surreal.
There are also lots of shows throughout the day, the biggest being held around the Wisdom Tree. In this one all of the characters are introduced and there is lots of singing and dancing. Kitty then makes a spectacular entrance by being lowered from up above on a unicorn.
The whole experience was extremely sugary and sweet. In fact it was probably a little too sugary and sweet. I can only compare it to being strapped into a chair(similar to the one used in A Clockwork Orange) and being force fed candy floss, whilst having liquid sugar injected into your eyeballs.
I shouldn't really be complaining though, seeing that the theme park is aimed at your average five year old girl and not a thirty one year old man such as myself.
You can see all the photos here.
The official site for Sanrio Puroland is here.
The official site for Sanrio and everything Kitty is here.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Posted by steve at 8:09 a.m.