Hello Kitty and Beyond: A Look into the World of Sanrio
You may not realise that Sanrio, the company behind beloved and timeless characters like Hello Kitty and My Melody, has been around for over 60 years. If you're new to the brand or just looking to expand your kawaii knowledge, join us as we explore the world of this iconic Japanese household name.
Shintaro Tsuji stepped down in 2020 but the Sanrio company remains in his family.
The company was founded in Japan in 1960 by Shintaro Tsuji, who was inspired by the success of Disney's characters merchandise and wanted to create a similar concept in Japan and in 1974, Yuko Shimizu designed Hello Kitty, the familiar cartoon cat-like girl with a red bow and no mouth. Shortly after designing her character, Shimizu-san left Sanrio to get married and and fellow designer Yuko Yamaguchi took over. Yamaguchi-san has been the lead designer for Hello Kitty ever since and under her, the character was an instant success, and her merchandise, including keychains, stationery, and other accessories, quickly became popular among young girls. Hello Kitty's cute and innocent appearance, along with her wide range of merchandise, helped to solidify Sanrio as a cultural force.
Yuko Shimizu (L) and Yuko Yamagachi (R)
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Sanrio continued to introduce new characters, including My Melody, Little Twin Stars, and Keroppi, that all became popular among children and teenagers. These characters helped to establish Sanrio as a major player in the world of cute and adorable characters.
Little Twin Stars before their makeover
In the 1990s and 2000s, Sanrio's popularity began to spread beyond Japan, with many other countries embracing the company's characters. The popularity of anime and manga, both of which often feature Sanrio's characters, played a large role in this. Characters like Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Keroppi helped to popularise Sanrio's characters even further. Older fans may remember the characters appearing on clothing and bags from high street shops like Top Shop as the characters became popular among alt-fashion and early 2000s emo kids who embraced Sanrio along with other elements of kawaii culture and anime.
Blue Sanrio Jewellery Box
Today, Sanrio continues to innovate and evolve, introducing new characters and expanding into new markets. The company has also diversified its product line and you'll find everything from plushies, jewellery boxes, cups and special edition Japanese snacks here at oshoppu. We love Sanrio characters and they have become synonymous with kawaii culture and continue to be beloved by people of all ages. Sanrio believes that their characters are for everyone, an idea which is important to the values of our shop where we work hard to make Japanese pop-culture accessible to all ages and backgrounds.