Japan’s iconic Hello Kitty takes L.A. by storm. Sharon Reich reports.
It'll be a 40th birthday to remember for Hello Kitty. And what more could a super cute girl want than an entire museum exhibition dedicated to her? At the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, a retrospective looks at the wild life of the mouthless cat. From the very first Hello Kitty vinyl miniature coin purse, to giant renditions of her as Kittypatra, she's become the iconic figure symbolizing Japan's "kawaii" or cute culture around the world. Jamie Rivadeneira is co-curator of the exhibit. SOUNDBITE: Jamie Rivadeneira, co-curator of the exhibit saying (English): "She's a really good blank canvas, she doesn't have a mouth, she doesn't really have a personality written for her, like a story. She's made to put on product, so I feel like the artist can speak through her really easily, and project their emotions and their feelings on her," says Rivadeneira, who co-curated the exhibit. Since her creation in a 1974 Japanese design contest, she has won over legions of international supporters including Janet Hsu, the President and COO of Sanrio, the company that owns Hello Kitty. SOUNDBITE: Janet Hsu, President and COO of Sanrio, saying (English): "I grew emotionally connected with her through the years. The reason why she inspires me is she's a friend to everyone, she's a unique companion to each person." The exhibit features two parts - a look at Hello Kitty's past, including her marketing everything from plush toys to aircraft, and a contemporary take on her life through works of art. Looking at Hello Kitty's popularity, it seems fair to say, that all cat's are not created equal.