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Sanrio Co., Ltd (Japanese: 株式会社サンリオ, Kabushikigaisha Sanrio) is a Japan-based conglomerate company, and character development company. Their characters such as the popular Hello Kitty appear on many merchandise. Today, Sanrio primarily focuses on works featuring kawaii/cute characters.

It is highly relevant to kawaii culture, and the Kitty Boom meant that Hello Kitty became in a way synonymous with the company.


According to Sanrio, their aim is to spread heart-felt emotion under the philosophy "Small Gift Big Smile".


Hello Kitty Shinkansen

Sanrio has worked with or partnered with many groups. Some of Sanrio's most popular characters especially Hello Kitty, and others (though more known in Japan) like the Little Twin Stars, My Melody, Keroppi, Badtz-Maru, Pochacco, Cinnamoroll) have become cultural icons, and are still promoted by third-parties today.

For Hello Kitty EVA Air, Sanrio collaborated with the EVA Air airline and they released the EVA Air Airbus A330-300, featuring Sanrio characters on the aeroplane. There have been cars with Sanrio designs such as the Louis Vuitton Hello Kitty Mini. The Hello Kitty Shinkansen is a special Hello Kitty bullet train by West Japan Railway Company located on the Sanyo Shinkansen line between Hakata Station and Shin-Osaka Station.[1]

Kitty Boom

Main article: Kitty Boom.

The Kitty Boom is a term referring to how Sanrio's character Hello Kitty (introduced in 1974) became exponentially more popular, and is also important to kawaii culture. At one point, Sanrio's the Little Twin Stars and Patty & Jimmy characters were previously more popular among Sanrio fans. Furthermore, Hello Kitty was initially losing popularity, until the Kitty Boom made her much more popular. This was perhaps due to a redesign strategy, the influence of celebrities, the popular Hello Kitty Print Club, as well as the introduction of her friends the Tinychum teddy bears (introduced in 1984).


Sanrio was founded on August 10, 1960 as Yamanashi Silk Center Co. Ltd (also referred to as Yamanashi Silk Company) with ¥1,000,000 capital[2] before later changing its name to Sanrio. Shintaro Tsuji was the founder of the company. In 2020, Shintaro Tsuji stepped down and his grandson Tomokuni Tsuji became the president.

Name origin of Sanrio

  • Kore ga Sanrio no Himitsu Desu. (これがサンリオの秘密です。) states that Sanrio is an alternative reading of its older name Yamanashi [Silk Center] (Sanri) and the exclamation "ou" for excitement. Of note, an old nickname of Shintaro Tsuji's is the "Strawberry King" (king, 王 is ou) (not to be confused with the character).
    • This meaning seems to have been lost to time, with Sanrio Europe claiming it comes from san ('holy') and río ('river').


Ventures by Sanrio have included the creation of characters and the manufacturing of products, originally from silk in 1960. The products mainly feature kawaii/cute characters, and Sanrio has licensed many third-party works which use them. Other ventures include publishing, entertainment including film, animation, music, video games, amusement parks, restaurants, as well as education (see Sanrio English Master). Sanrio has also considered a lifestyle brand company. The ventures can also be categorised under multimedia and hospitality. There are various labels related to its ventures such as Sanrio Film, Sanrio Video, Sanrio Smiles.

Sanrio is perhaps most well-known for its characters. It is loved for its many 'cute' original characters that it creates, such as the popular Hello Kitty and other lesser known characters such as Cinnamoroll, My Melody, Kerokerokeroppi and Hangyodon. Hello Kitty is notably well-known even outside of Japan. Sanrio also owns rights to the Mr. Men and Little Miss franchise (originally by Roger Hargreaves and Adam Hargreaves. In Japan, it holds some rights to the Peanuts franchise (originally by Charles M. Schulz).


In 1960, as Yamanashi Silk Center and Sanrio later that year, it originally made products from silk. In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji expanded Sanrio to produce flower painted rubber sandels.[3]

According to Sanrio, their first original brand was "Strawberry" introduced in 1962; a strawberry design pattern.[4]

Print media

Print media directly published by Sanrio includes books (for both children and adults), manga/comics, novels, activity books, and likely more. There is an ISBN prefix 9784387, used to identify print media from the Japanese division of Sanrio. Sanrio Co., Ltd. and its subsidiaries also license books with Sanrio characters that the company itself did not publish.

In the 1960s, Sanrio launched the Mini Book Series.

In March 1975, Sanrio launched The Strawberry News (originally as a promotional release on March 1975 until the first official release on April 1975). It is an official series of monthly Japanese Sanrio magazines/newspapers which are still being printed today. The very early editions focused on characters from third-parties, but later editions focus on Sanrio's own characters. Little Jumbo from No. 9 (August 15, 1975) also became a Sanrio Film in 1977.

The Lyrica magazine, focusing on manga/comics by many artists such as manga of Unico, Fantasy World Jun, Rosebud Rosie, Penkin and many franchises was also launched by Sanrio on September 1976. Unlike The Strawberry News it only ran until No. 29 (March 1979).[5] In particular, Unico spun-off into Sanrio Films The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (1981) and Unico in the Island of Magic (1983).

The Sanrio SF Bunko series is a collection of Sanrio reprints of science fiction novels. Sanrio Romance Comics is a collection of romance related books. Origami Shinseki-Mei: Hitotachi no Kessaku-Shuu is a 1989 Sanrio origami book. Various re-prints of stand-alone books from other publishers such as the Children's Letters to God series and Waga Tomo Gnomes were published by Sanrio as well.

Food and drink

In 1973, Sanrio opened up a restaurant in Gotanda TOC building, Tokyo called Sanrio Salon. Additionally, Sanrio is partnered with Moke's Bread & Breakfast and KFC in Japan.[6] There are various Sanrio character themed cafes including Hello Kitty Cafe, My Melody Cafe, Cinnamoroll Cafe.

Animation and film

Sanrio have released many animations, videos and films under labels Sanrio Film and Sanrio Video.

Some of the earliest films are The Rose Flower and Joe (1977), Little Jumbo (1977), Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids? (1977), The Mouse and His Child (1977) and Ringing Bell (1978).

In 1981, as a tie-in with Unico, Sanrio released Kitty to Mimmy Atarashii Kasa (Kitty and Mimmy's New Umbrella).

The 1989-1991 Sanrio Anime Festival was a series of animations featuring Sanrio characters, originally released between 1989-1991 originally at Toho cinemas and later in 1996. Some of these were released outside of Japan for Sanrio Animation Series.

Japanese Sanrio television programmes include Daisuki! Hello Kitty, Asobou!! Hello Kitty, Hello Kitty to Bad Badtz-Maru, the Kitty's Paradise (not to be confused with the overseas Hello Kitty's Paradise series) and the Sanrio Characters: Pon Pon Jump! series.

Sanrio screened the film Monster Planet of Godzilla at Sanrio Puroland and Harmonyland[7] between March 18, 1994[8] to July 1, 1998[9]. This version included the guest appearance of Hello Kitty.

Sanrio assisted in the production of the Flint the Time Detective anime in Japan. Similarly to Monster Planet of Godzilla, a Flint the Time Detective Film was shown as Sanrio Puroland and Harmonyland. In Sanrio Puroland, it appeared at The Time Machine of Dreams.

Sanrio Poco a Poco is a series of 2007-2008 educational DVDs for children, featuring Sanrio characters.

There have been releases of shows well-received at Sanrio Puroland, such as in Zēnbu! Cinnamon!.

Sanrio have released many videos for free online on YouTube, such as the Hello Kitty and Friends: Supercute Adventures series by the [[ Hello Kitty and Friends (YouTube channel)|Hello Kitty and Friends YouTube channel]], introduced in 2020. Another example of series published by Sanrio on YouTube are from the Gudetama YouTube channel.

There are many other animation series by third-parties such as Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater.

Various of Sanrio's franchises have their own series of anime, such as Onegai My Melody, Jewelpet and Sugarbunnies (the Sugarbunnies anime was originally a section of Kitty Paradise PLUS).

Amusement parks

There are two Sanrio based amusement parks known as Sanrio Puroland (launched in 1990) in Tama, Tokyo and Harmonyland in Hiji, Ōita, Kyūshū, Japan. Past amusement parks/events have included Sanrio Phantasien, Ginza Sanrio Gallery, Hello Kitty's Marchen Land with animatronics by Sanrio's subsidiary Kokoro, as well as Sanrio World.

At the amusement parks are various attractions such as rides and performances/theatrical plays by people dressed up as Sanrio characters.


Many of Sanrio's animation and print media series have themes which teach children life lessons, or are targeted towards children, such as Sanrio Poco a Poco. Hello Kitty's Paradise (though released by Saban Entertainment) is another example of such a series, such as in the episode Minding Manners. In 2017, Sentai released Hello Kitty & Friends: Let's Learn Together.

In 2022, Sanrio announced Sanrio English Master for providing teaching material to young children aged 0-8 years. This series also includes its own original characters like mascot Eddy, his friend Pita and Mike the microphone.


There are many songs and tunes from Sanrio's other ventures (like animation and film, the amusement parks/events, video games, etc.). Occasionally these are released separately such as A Tale of Africa: Original Soundtrack. There are some original songs promoting Sanrio characters such as Hello Kitty (1977 song) and Ano Ko wa Kitty promoting Hello Kitty, or Minnā Issho ni, Patty Patty wa Onna no Ko Jimmy Jimmy wa Otoko no Ko promoting Patty & Jimmy.

Hello World is a Hello Kitty branded album by artists such as Keke Palmer, Cori Yarckin, and Ainjel Emme under the Lakeshore Records label.[10] In celebration of Sanrio's 50th anniversary, AH Software made the Vocaloid Nekomura Iroha who is also a tie-in for the Hello Kitty to Issho! Project.[11][12]

In November 2014, Yoshiki revealed a Hello Kitty theme song called Hello Hello at Hello Kitty Con. Yuko Yamaguchi approached him to make the song seven years earlier.[13] Yoshiki is known to have a Hello Kitty doll and variation themed around him called Yoshikitty.

Sanrio's Show by Rock!! franchise is themed around aspiring music stars, and there are music is also an important theme in Onegai My Melody and Magical Rion-chan.

Video games

Sanrio released their own series of Japanese PC games featuring Sanrio characters called Sanrio Tiny Park powered by Macromedia. There are also sub-series within the Sanrio Tiny Park, and some releases were published by other companies. Another game released by Sanrio is Hello Kitty 25th Anniversary CD-ROM: Daisuki!! Hello Kitty also powered by Macromedia.

Character Soft was also a Japanese subsidiary of Sanrio which published video games featuring Sanrio characters developed by companies other than Sanrio

Sanrio Digital is a subsidiary of Sanrio known for Hello Kitty Online, Hello Kitty Seasons and Hello Kitty Jewel Town!. Various Sanrio related video games were also distributed by Sanrio Wave such as BITS PUZZLE Kitty IQ, Hello Kitty World (iOS), HELLO KITTY COIN.

Logo history




See also


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