Sugarpuff has a bit of thing for Hello Kitty. And by “bit” I actually mean the kid loves that prissy puss with the white-hot intensity of a thousand burning suns! Needless to say in Japan, the birthplace of the famed feline, my girl is in Hello Kitty heaven.
When I say feline I must do so with a caveat. You see, much to the confusion of everyone ever, Sanrio executives recently announced that Hello Kitty has been living a lie for the past four decades and isn’t actually a cat – in spite of the whiskers, ears, name and her blatant catlikeness! But for the sake of this post, let’s just assume they were smoking catnip or, at the very least, gargling bong water when they made that announcement and that Hello Kitty is indeed the pretty puss we always assumed she was.
Now back to Japan and Sugarpuff and the ubiquitous Hello Kitty. So ubiquitous in fact, that our trip turns out to be a Pussy Riot.. and not in a Russian feminist punk rock protest group kind of way.
From the themed snacks and biscuits and kimono-clad Kittys in every other store, to Universal Studios in Osaka where Sugarpuff takes a whirl on Hello Kitty’s Cupcake Dream and eats Hello Kitty’s face at a pork bun stand, much Kitty-based hilarity ensues.
It’s also at Universal Studios that she enjoys a squeal-inducing encounter with the famed feline herself on Hello Kitty Fashion Avenue.
But it is in Tokyo where that signature bow and those perky whiskers prove literally inescapable with Hello Kitty branded everything… everywhere. Tokyo is a Hello Kitty kinda city and Sugarpuff is a hello Kitty kinda gal. She is hooked. Though mostly, it would seem, on spending our money.
In her bid to ensure that our airline charges us a King’s ransom in overweight luggage fees, she stocks up on Hello Kitty cuteness at every possible opportunity. And there are so bloody many. There’s the dedicated Hello Kitty department at the incredible seven-story Kiddy Land toy store in Harajuku, where both the kids lose their minds in a manic frenzy of shopping. Not to mention the world’s largest assortment of Hello Kitty goodies at the enormous emporium of fluff that is the Sanrio Store in Ginza. And then there is the Hello Kitty store in Tokyo Station’s Character Street, inconveniently located right next to our hotel. At each, Sugarpuff gleefully fills bags with Hello Kitty kitsch.
Her hunger for Hello Kitty unsated, we have a last little surprise in store for my obsessed offspring. And it’s one that may cause permanent retina damage to the rest of us. For the last three nights of our holiday, we’ve booked a very special room at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku and they’ve quite literally laid out the “welcome cat” for our little lovely in one of their outrageously fabulous and over the top Hello Kitty Town Rooms.
The room is a blast… literally. It’s a pop art explosion of pastel and every surface, from the vibrant Kitty strewn carpet and wallpaper to the furniture and fittings, is plastered with Sugarpuff’s favourite fictional feline.
When we open the door, festooned as it is with a signature red bow, her face cracks open in what can only be described as a Guinness Book of World Records worthy grin.
A Hello Kitty big enough to sit on dominates the room, while a lipstick signed bathroom mirror lends an air of glamour.
There are framed pictures, take-home Hello Kitty water bottles, cuddly toys, stationary and even Hello Kitty branded rubbish bins, hairdryers, and bathroom scales.
This is total Hello Kitty immersion and I’m fairly certain Sugarpuff’s squeals of delight can be heard ricocheting off the skyscrapers all the way across Tokyo.
And the excitement doesn’t end in-room either with extra special touches including a conniption-inducing Hello Kitty mocktail in the hotel’s 43rd storey bar… one of the few times she voluntarily agrees to let go of the giant Hello Kitty in our room.
Personally I’m just as happy with a bucket of wine and the awesome view (not dissimilar to the one at the neighbouring Park Hyatt that was made famous in Lost in Translation).
This is Sugarpuff’s idea of hotel heaven. And while we don’t share our daughter’s passion for the pastel-hued accessorising of the plush puss, we too are enamoured with the massive Keio Plaza Hotel, one of the best family-friendly city hotels we’ve come across in any city. Packed with facilities including 20 restaurants and bars, child minding and even an in-house medical clinic, it’s just five-minutes walk from the neon-lit fun of Shinjuku, with streets of incredible food and some quirky entertainment. What’s not to love?
Raffles on the other hand is virtually heaving at the avalanche of Sanrio sweetness. But he does his level best to grin and bare the blast of girlyness with good humour after seeing how happy it makes his little sister. Who am I kidding… he is only sucking it up because we promise him a trip to a sumo stable and a night out at the insane Robot Restaurant as an antidote to the onslaught of perky puss!
But there is one black spot in our three days of retina-searing Hello Kitty gaudiness and that is witnessing the devastating heartbreak of a sobbing Sugarpuff when we check out and she has to farewell her beloved plush pal.