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Hello Kitty celebrates 30
TOKYO, Japan (AFP) - Japan's Hello Kitty, the moon-faced, mouthless white cat, celebrated her 30th birthday on August 17, evolving from a nameless feline on a cheap vinyl purse into the money-making global icon of cuteness.
Hello Kitty comes on dolls, key chains, clothes, credit cards, laptops, vacuum cleaners and even karaoke boxes as a loyal fan base of young women embraces the cat whose expressionless face can be read in any way they want.
Tamaki Hirayoshi, a 37-year-old woman in Tokyo, has collected some 1,000 Hello Kitty products over three decades. She said she was most drawn to the cat's eyes - or lack thereof.
"The biggest attraction of Hello Kitty is her eyes. They are just dots. When a character's eyes look real, it doesn't look pretty," Hirayoshi said.
"I must say I'm addicted to Kitty. When I see new items, I usually buy them.
It's like a conditioned reflex," she said.
But when Shimizu put the cat with a red bow on small children's stationery, stuffed dolls and handkerchiefs and called it Hello Kitty, the mouthless cat was quickly purring.
Hello Kitty products are now sold in 60 nations and some 50,000 different Kitty products were sold worldwide in the fiscal year to March 2004.