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Friday, 29th August 2014
In Japan Entertainment News,

Hello Kitty revelation sparks disbelief

Among Japan's exports, you will struggle to find one that is more universally adored and recognised than Hello Kitty. The white face with its whiskers, pointy ears and red bow adorns everything from pencil cases to plushies and is the epitome of the so-called 'Kawaii Japan' image the tourist industry is keen to perpetuate.

But now, Hello Kitty has proven to be more than a little controversial as the web goes wild over the revelation that, despite the aforementioned whiskers and ears, she is not actually a cat.

The news broke earlier today (August 28th) on the eve of Hello Kitty's debut in Los Angeles that will see her open her own museum exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum.

But if not a cat - despite having a name that consists of a term defining a young feline - then what is Hello Kitty? Curator of the display Christine Yano explained in an interview with the LA Times: "She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat.

"She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature."

Ms Yano clarified further by adding that her showcase had initially included references to the iconic Japanese export as a cat. "That's one correction Sanrio, the company that owns the character, made for my script for the show," she explained.

Twitter is having none of it, however, with various users taking to the microblogging site to ridicule the news. Even Snoopy had something to say, interjecting just to confirm that he is indeed a dog.

Hello Kitty celebrates her 40th anniversary this year, having come into existence during the 1970s when the Japanese were particularly interested in Great Britain. Perhaps this is why Kitty's nationality is listed as British.

The character's popularity, according to Ms Yano, is largely due to Kitty's unreadable features and perpetual blank expression, which allows fans to project their own emotions onto the distinctly cat-like face.

"Hello Kitty works and is successful partly because of the blankness of her design," Yano said. "People see the possibility of a range of expressions. You can give her a guitar, you can put her on stage, you can portray her as is."

While Inside Japan will refrain from wading in on the debate with the enthusiasm of Snoopy, we can recommend a number of cat-related activities in the country that will appease the appetite of anyone seeking to experience the kawaii feeling.

How about visiting a cat cafe in Tokyo, where it has become very fashionable to sip green tea in the company of a friendly moggy? These establishments can be found throughout the Akihabara, Shibuya and Shinjuku districts of the capital. Our four-legged felines can also be found on Japan's famous 'cat island', although known as Tashirojima, which has a large stray cat population thanks to the belief they bring good luck.

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