Travelogue: Saying ‘Hello’ to Hello Kitty

Japan Press Trip Part 7

Fads come an go, but some things endure, and Hello Kitty is one of Japan’s most enduring Pop icons. The Japanese Tea House Hello Saryo in Kyoto pays tribute to the mouth-less feline with both a cafe and gift shop.

The Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau arranges an all-day itinerary for travel writers from Hong Kong. Following a caffeine fix at a coffee house, the first stop is the Japanese Tea House Hello Kitty Saryo!

I’ve never really understood the attraction of Hello Kitty. For little girls? Yes. But for grown women? No.

Not even do little boys like Hello Kitty, some teenage boys are also obsessed with the mouth-less feline!

Believe it or not, but an English teacher in Hong Kong once told me that she had a Form 3 student (equivalent to Ninth Grade in the United States) that insisted that his English name was Hello Kitty.

When she refused to call him that, he threw a hissy fit. When she checked the class roll, however, she discovered that that WAS  his official English name. I can’t help but wonder if that name made it on to his Hong Kong ID …

Japanese Tea House Hello Kitty Saryo

 Considering the immense and enduring popularity of Hello Kitty – not just in Japan, but around the world – it is not surprising that the 2nd stop on our all-day whirlwind tour of Kyoto is the Hello Kitty café and gift shop.

I must admit. I do suffer from a certain morbid curiosity. I can’t wait to see just what that enigmatic cat’s face without a mouth will be festooned upon.

First we are given a briefing on the brand, get some photo opps, and sample a sweet Hello Kitty soup.

Then we visit the gift shop, which is chock-a-block with all manner Hello Kitty T-shirts, stationery, souvenirs – the list goes on. I think I am the only member of our group that leaves the gift shop empty handed!

But not without FIRST taking lots of pictures …

After saying ‘Good Bye!’ to Hello Kitty, we get 45 minutes to explore the historic Higashiyama-ku district on our own. Then we are to meet at a Japanese restaurant for a scrumptious lunch.

I head straight for the pagoda in the distance. Will I make it or will I get sidetracked along the way?


Japanese Tea House Hello Kitty Saryo, 363-22-2, Masuya-cho, Kodaiji-minamimon-dori Shimokawara-cho Higashi-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Store

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