Licensed Hello Kitty Park purring to life in Zhejiang
By zhang zhao (
Updated: 2015-01-07

Illustrating the power of a popular international trademark, a Hello Kitty Park started trial operations on New Year's Day in Anji county, Zhejiang province.

It is the first outdoor theme park for the ubiquitous cartoon cat outside Japan.

Licensed by the character's creator Sanrio Co, Zhejiang real estate developer Insight Angel Paradise Management Ltd invested about 1.5 billion yuan ($241.7 million) to build the facility.

The project is also a key part of the provincial government's tourism program under its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

Liu Fudao, managing director of Insight Angel Paradise, told China Daily that they along with the Japanese copyright owner and the local government "have full faith in safeguarding the trademark and copyright of Hello Kitty".

"We have seen improved intellectual property rights protection in China and increasing IP awareness in Chinese people," he said.

But he added that China still lags behind Japan in its IP system, showing "a gap between a big nation and a strong nation in the comics business".

"Japan has a strict, standardized and healthy chain in the comics industry. The protection of brands and copyrights is necessary to develop great works and help the industry grow."

He said that the Japanese side will not be involved in the management of the park, although it provided brand promotion solutions and training programs for the employees before the park was completed.

"Hello Kitty is not just about fashion and entertainment," he said. "She has distinctive characteristics that convey people's common aspiration for a happy life. We hope the park will help deepen family ties, which is more important than having fun."

Covering about 95,000 square meters, the park is divided into six theme zones. It has castles, theaters, souvenir shops and restaurants along with firework shows on some holidays.

Facilities not yet operational include a landmark Ferris wheel with a huge Hello Kitty face at the center.

The well-known cartoon character was created by Sanrio designer Yuko Shimizu in 1974.

Sanrio has two theme parks in Japan - the indoor Puroland in Tokyo and the outdoor park Harmonyland in Oita - that attract millions of visitors every year.

The first Hello Kitty theme park in Southeast Asia opened in 2012 in Malaysia. The four-level indoor facility offers rides, activities and shows.

The new park in Anji welcomed more than 6,000 tourists on the first day, and is expected to receive more than 1 million visitors a year.

Liu said that a geographic advantage was a contributing factor that attracted the park to Anji.

"Compared with theme parks in urban cities, this Hello Kitty Park features more natural beauty with the picturesque mountain backdrop," he said.

Anji was China's first county to win the UN Habitat Scroll of Honor Award.

Phil Hettema, president of the Hettema Group, Sanrio's partner that designed the park, agreed with Liu. He told InPark magazine that the location was "one of the greenest parts of China and is really lovely".

"Sanrio has hundreds of characters, each with a unique personality. They have been an integral part of culture in Japan for decades," he said.

"The existing Sanrio parks were done quite a long time ago, and there are new ways to use media now to bring these characters to life and give people the chance to interact with them."

Yuko Tsuji, executive officer of Sanrio, said at the park's inauguration ceremony in late November that the company is considering expanding its business in China by opening more theme parks, Japanese newspaper Nikkei Business Daily reported.

Xu Xin contributed to the story.

Licensed Hello Kitty Park purring to life in Zhejiang

Licensed Hello Kitty Park purring to life in Zhejiang

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